A Free-Market Energy Blog

“Economic planning … is sound policy” (R Street’s Hartman Outs Himself)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 21, 2024

Update: Devin Hartman of R Street has blocked some of the links below. The debate is intellectual to me and PR/political to him. If he cannot define what a free market is in electricity, then he is not being honest with himself or the community.

“The core of [FERC] Order 1920 – economic planning – is sound policy.” (Devin Hartman, R Street Institute)

“You describe yourself as ‘pro-market,’ and R Street promotes itself as free market. What gives with central electricity planning and the ‘whole-of-government’ current federal approach? (R. Bradley, below)

R Street Institute advertises itself as “Free Markets. Real Solutions.” Devin Hartman, Policy Director, Energy and Environmental Policy; Resident Senior Fellow at R Street, advertises himself as “pro-market and environmental policy scholar and advocate” and

An established thought leader in energy and environmental policy with over a decade of experience, including nearly six years of experience at three regulatory bodies. Strong blend of hard and soft skills with extensive interdisciplinary background. Demonstrated excellence in analytical and government affairs roles.

In defending 1,269-page FERC Order 1920, which basically bails out uneconomic wind and solar with new transmission (a government play coming and going), Hartman applauds none other than economic planning by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as follows:

The core of Order 1920 – economic planning – is sound policy. It adopts a reasonable planning horizon, benefits definitions, and scenario planning to mitigate risk. Will channel more capital into economic transmission planning, whereas the status quo is to let predominantly (90%) uneconomic processes continue inefficient buildouts. Keep an eye on rehearing to tighten ROFR language to avoid unintended abuses. The role of states warrants further discussion.

He adds:

Grid politics aside, consumers and proponents of sound policy would be better off prioritizing quality implementation and pursuing complementary reforms in lieu of broad litigation.

I commented:

Isn’t Biden FERC policy premised on climate alarmism and forced energy transformation? And in this case, more government to address the problems of prior (wind and solar in the wilds because people don’t want to be near them)?

This is not ‘free market’ but the opposite–planning the next steps down the road to electricity serfdom. Sure make those steps ‘efficient’ but ….

Hartman responded:

Rob, comments like this bring shame on you, not us. This is the last time I plan to respond to an unprofessional comment from you.

To which I answered:

You applaud “economic planning” with FERC Order 1920. I accused you/R Street of being the opposite of free market, and you respond that my comment “brings shame on you” and is “unprofessional”.

Can you define what free market energy policy is and explain how you are combating climate exaggeration and forced energy transformation?

You describe yourself as “pro-market,” and R Street promotes itself as free market. What gives with central electricity planning and the ‘whole-of-government’ current federal approach?

Others commented on the peculiar analysis. Mark Rohrbacker noted:

I skimmed the article from R Street and it didn’t seem like a document written by a self-declared “free market think tank”. It seemed like a political statement that lambasted the “Republican” member of the FERC several times. Did I read it wrong?

Hartman answered:

Making cost of service transmission planning use economic planning tools with competitive bidding is the pro-market position for what’s within scope of the rule. In reducing flow constraints it will also enable more trade, thus enhancing spot market performance, It disagrees with Christie on regional transmission and agrees with him on local transmission.

Rohrbacke responded:

I reread the document and found Mr Bradley’s explanation more believable than yours. I don’t think it represents a “pro-market” position and I won’t be using “R Street” as my source in the future.

Another comment, this one by Mark Lewis, went unanswered by Hartman or anyone on his government planning side.

The new FERC order is really targeted and bailing out wind billionaire who want to sell cheap wind to the urban liberal zones at tax payer expense. Its largely another renewables subsidy.

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Final Comment

I do not expect any response from Devin Hartman, just like the method of Michael Giberson (the subject of tomorrow’s post) and Lynne Kiesling, free market pretenders back-stroking in a sea of government intervention. Free-market-not, these three reward their backers with evidence that they are weakening the conservative/classical liberal movement in energy and climate policy. It’s a shame, and one that becomes more and more evident as R Street sells “efficient” steps on the energy/climate road to serfdom.

Appendix: R Street Largess

R Street has virtually unlimited money to hire energy specialists to push forced energy transformation based on climate alarm. The idea is to splinter the conservative/libertarian movement toward a carbon tax. The premise for energy is stated by R Street founder and head Eli Lehrer: “Climate change resulting from human activity likely poses the biggest environmental risk modern society faces.”

The R Street problem includes their Texas energy director Josiah Neeley, who took a nice salary bump to leave the free-market Texas Public Policy Foundation and endorse climate alarmism and forced energy transformation (a carbon tax, wind/solar subsidies, etc.). Fortunately, his old views are part of the record to refute his current views. Neeley has tried to tie libertarian Murray N. Rothbard to climate alarm/restitution and, more recently, to current interventionist electricity policy, which I will describe and refute in a future post.

The R Street Michael Giberson story is one that I have covered. Tomorrow’s post is about my recent progress to get him to define what a free market policy which then can be applied to electricity–and himself.


  1. John W. Garrett  

    Anybody who promotes themselves as a “thought leader” isn’t.


  2. John W. Garrett  

    Out of curiosity I looked at R Street’s website. It’s a collection of Big Government grifters and social parasites representative of everything that is wrong about the “Mistake On The Potomac.” They are in the business of manufacturing noise. The world would be a better place if the bunch of ’em went back to wherever they were originally from and started doing something constructive.


  3. Denis  

    Thought leader? Just what is a “thought leader?” Is it someone who is skilled at steering conversations in the direction they want? A manipulator? Six years experience at three regulatory “bodies.” Not sure what such a body that might be, but if “Government agency’s” is the intended meaning, then two years to get fired from each of three different Government agencies is quite a record. It usually requires several years for an incompetent to get fired from a government agency. Hartman seems to be a horrid blowhard to me.


  4. Robert Bradley  

    Devin Hartman in a subsequent blog exchange stated:

    “Several free market commentors in his post were put off by the phrase ‘economic planning’ for obvious reasons. That’s why context is key. Almost all transmission development today is done through central planning, which I’m certainly not thrilled about. Even worse, 90%+ of it is planned by monopolies absent any economic process (eg no CBA test nor competitive bidding), Thus, why better economic planning–the scope of Order 1920–is an important upgrade from reliance on uneconomic planning (the predominant status quo). We can and should aim higher, but that wasn’t in scope of the rulemaking.”


    Boo … This is a dodge with hidden assumptions and an agenda. There is no mention of a true free market–the end of franchise protection and rate regulation– as an end and a means to an end. It would be easy for R Street in another context to just pick a state and go for a real free market.

    And why is federal holistic planning better than utility-area planning, the former being to subsidize a takeover of the grid by wind, solar, batteries?

    No free market vision here. Status quo apologetics and cover for R Street as a front group for Biden’s all-of-government approach to electricity policy. Devin, press your superiors and funders to have a free market vision beyond climate alarmism and forced energy transformation.


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