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Public Choice and Electricity: Kiesling Ducks Again (Plano, Tx. meeting next week)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 8, 2024

“Maybe in her Presidential Address (if enough people have read this critical post) she will be compelled to broach the subject of Public Choice and Electricity Planning. And maybe include a mea culpa that she finds herself admitting from time to time. Here’s hoping….”

The strange intellectual case of Lynne Kiesling–the technocratic ‘classical liberal’ championing a government planned, monopolistic electricity market–continues. Think seven Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) that regulate the in-and-out and pricing of grid electricity over multiple utility areas.

Public Choice Society Meeting

Next week is the 61st annual conference of the Public Choice Society, a stellar organization that applies Economics 101 to governmental institutions. “Methodological Individualism … Rational Choice … Politics-as-exchange.” A great tradition, a great conference ahead….

But … Kiesling is presiding as President of an 80-session, 220-presentation conference without a session in her pet area, governmental electricity planning.

Electricity, the second most regulated sector of the U.S. economy, is chock full of public choice issues. So why didn’t she organize a session on “Public Choice and Electricity” with a specific session on, say, “Sovereign Immunity: ERCOT and the Texas Blackout”?

The answer? She is in denial about the failure of her electricity planning model. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas got off the hook for tens of billion of dollars worth of planning error in regard to The Great Blackout of February 2021, the most deadly and costly economic failure in U.S. history. What a case study–and Lynne (and disciple Michael Giberson) know where the bodies are buried in the “governance failures” (her term) of ISO/RTOs.

For more than a year, with her “market socialism” model besieged by the ‘knowledge problem‘ and Public Choice, I have begged her to show her cards. She refuses to consider a real free market in electricity (“I will not dance to your tune,” she says). She will not simply define what a free market in electricity is, instead blurring the subject with hidden assumptions and peculiar notions about what is government-versus-market. Now, she refuses to even engage with her critics on social media. She is hiding something, a lot.


Back to the the Public Choice Society meeting this week in Plano, Some eighty panels cover just about everything except for electricity. The closest is “Corruption and Political Institutions” Friday at 9:30 am, that includes a presentation, “Green but Corrupt? Evidence of Bribery in the Renewable Energy Sector by Cristina Strango (discussant Jeff Milyo). Nice topic, but what about electricity writ large? Digitization (a favorite theme of Kiesling) has its own session (see Appendix A below), But what about the elephant in the room, Mandatory Open Access politics and ISO/RTO planning.

Maybe in her Presidential Address (if enough people have read this critical post) she will be compelled to broach the subject of Public Choice and Electricity. And maybe include a mea culpa that she finds herself admitting from time to time. [1] Here’s hoping….

Technocratic Rent-Seeker?

Kiesling is a politically correct player in the government sandbox. She collects academic positions and other associations for her tacit-to-direct support of climate alarmism and forced energy transformation. She wants government intervention to work, including, in the case below, with electric vehicles (EVs) propping up the wind/solar-wounded grid.

A constant self-promoter, she announced on LinkedIn:

I’m pleased to report that 7 other researchers & I have been awarded a National Science Foundation research grant in their Strengthening American Infrastructure program, to develop new knowledge about using digital technologies and market institutions for buildings and electric vehicles as energy resources. I’m looking forward to working with Serena KimRimvydas BaltaduonisMoatassem Abdallah, Farnoush Barnaei-Kashani, Fernando Mancilla-David, Manish Shirgaokar, & Tyler Svitak on this project! https://lnkd.in/gg2kihbC

SAI focuses on how knowledge of human reasoning and decision-making, governance, and social and cultural processes enables the building and maintenance of effective infrastructure that improves lives and society and builds on advances in technology and engineering.

If this project sounds like a central-planner design, it is!

This project explores how people can benefit from improving the flow of energy and information between electric vehicles (EVs) and the electric grid. Many Americans are experiencing frequent power outages and rising energy costs. EVs offer a promising solution as they can serve as backup power sources during outages, charge at cheaper times, support the grid, and promote the integration of renewable energy. However, to fully harness the advantages of EVs, encouraging EV charging practices that prioritize grid stability and economic incentives is vital.

This SAI research project combines economic, behavioral, and technical concepts to develop a Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) system that maximizes the advantages of EVs in addressing power outages, reducing energy costs, and creating a strong and sustainable energy system. This project explores the potential benefits of VGI, the costs and challenges associated with its implementation, and how best to share the benefits among people. Additionally, this project examines how people most prefer to participate and be compensated for using their buildings and EVs as resources to make the electric grid more resilient.

And still more scientism:

Building on existing collaborations with policymakers, industry, and nonprofits, this SAI project is organized into four research thrusts.

Thrust 1 focuses on finding pricing mechanisms and institutional arrangements that promote user-friendly VGI services. Thrust 2 performs power flow studies to ensure the power grid can handle VGI and designs a system for optimizing EV charging and discharging schedules. Thrust 3 examines socio-economic disparities in benefiting from VGI and explores consumer willingness to participate in bidirectional EV charging.

Thrust 4 develops a machine learning model and a synthetic dataset that includes data on how consumers adopt and use VGI services, as well as the impact of these adoption and usage patterns. By combining data from laboratory experiments, surveys, interviews, and real-world implementations of VGI infrastructure, this project offers a model for predicting the effects and patterns of widespread adoption of VGI systems across the country.

Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI)? Electric vehicles (per government) on the grid (per government)? From the garage to the grid … Big Biden, Big Government Energy Transition. To real classical liberals, this is naked rent-seeking and scientism by a Woman of System.

Final Comment

How much longer can Lynne Kiesling lead a double life championing Electricity Statism on the one hand and classical liberalism on the other? So far, she goes with the governmental flow of more intervention to address the problems of prior intervention, favoring the “virtual power plant” of open-ended wind/solar subsidies/penetration, battery storage, and–her favorite–surge pricing in the home and business. So no matter how wounded the supply side with the grid, price spikes will solve the supply problem.

Far better would be to reverse course. Kiesling should stop the bleeding, refute her governmental model (with the classical liberal literatures she claims support it) and begin anew. But will she?


[1] Here are some Kiesling statements in reference to the Texas planning debacle. A mea culpa:

“I spend most of my time thinking about and working on electricity technology and institutions, and as an economist focused on market institutions I have long been an analytical advocate of the Texas model…. February 2021 provided a traumatic challenge to the operational and regulatory institutions of the past 15 years, and in my opinion since then, the Texas legislature and ERCOT have made many wrong decisions and have politicized grid operations, market operations, and business decisions.”

But she needs to blame herself as woman of system, not the system. Consider this about face:

“By facilitating decentralized coordination instead of imposing specific outcomes, the institutions designed in Texas became the most market-oriented in the country, and the most likely to be resilient and adaptive in the face of unknown and charging economic, technological, and environmental conditions.” (with Andrew Kleit, 1999)

“(oops!) There is now a need to revise the scarcity pricing framework in the light of recent events [in Texas], and to reflect ever-changing market conditions.” (June 30, 2021)


Appendix A: Presidential Session – Digital Public Choice

The session is technocrat Kiesling’s approach to electricity institutions and public policy, a sort of a now-we-have-computers-for-market-socialism for a governmentally coordinated electricity market. The technology and economics of digitization is a non sequitur for forgoing a real free market in electricity because entrepreneurs would have access to digitization for their market discovery process. Here is the session:

Session Chair: Chris Berg
Session Organizer: Lynne Kiesling

The Limits of Automating Fiduciary Responsibilities
Presenter: Eric Alston
Co-Author(s): Sophia Cossar, Morshed Mannan
Discussant: Aaron Lane

Implementing property rights in digital economies
Presenter: Jason Potts
Co-Author(s): Chris Berg
Discussant: Eric Alston

The political economy of digital economies
Presenter: Jason Potts
Co-Author(s): Ellie Rennie
Discussant: Thibault Schrepel

Computation and antitrust
Presenter: Thibault Schrepel
Co-Author(s): Nicolas Petit
Discussant: Jason Potts

Appendix B: Critical Posts on Kiesling and Electricity

The Great Texas Blackout of 2021: Triumph of the Unreliables (February 20, 2024)

Kiesling vs. Cato’s Fisher on Free Market Electricity: For the Record (February 8, 2024)

Kiesling: ISOs/RTOs Suffer from “The Knowledge Problem” (November 1, 2023

Horwitz vs. Kiesling on Climate (October 3, 2023)

Renewable Tax Credits: Kiesling Ducks Again (July 20, 2023)

Free Market Electricity: End the Blackout (Kiesling bobs and weaves) (July 11, 2023)

Will Lynne Kiesling Show More Cards? (electricity in crisis, time for debate!) (May 18, 2023)

Electricity Policy: An Exchange with Lynne Kiesling (more evasion, statism from a “classical liberal”) (May 11, 2023)

Are Electricity ISOs/RTOs Government Central Planning? (February 17, 2023)

“Electricity Restructuring: The Texas Story” (revisiting a book gone sour) (August 18, 2022)

Classical Liberalism and Electricity: Ten Questions for Lynne Kiesling (August 17, 2022)

Classical Liberalism and Electricity: An (Unfinished) Exchange with Lynne Kiesling (August 16, 2022)

Appendix C: Critical Posts on Giberson and Electricity

Giberson: Mandatory Open Access (ISO/RTO) is “a very regulated market” (!) (November 2, 2023)

Stealth Electricity Statism: Giberson Exchange (for the record) (October 12, 2023)

Giberson on Negative Wind Pricing (2008) (October 11, 2023)

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