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McCullough Research occasionally publishes opinion pieces, essays and articles. Please contact the publication listed for permission to reproduce or distribute the items below.

1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

 

2016

June 11, 2014
Balancing an aging Hanford nuke plant against cheaper firm market power purchases

The Oregonian, Robert McCullough

"Recent closure announcements in California, Florida, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Vermont, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts all reflect the same underlying economic issue. Older nuclear units are proving more expensive than alternatives. The hundreds of millions we lose every year by operating this elderly power plant can be put to far better use elsewhere."

July 7, 2016
More roads needed to handle growth

The Portland Tribune, Robert McCullough

"Growth contributes to the overall health of the community, even when infrastructure requires investment."

July 7, 2016
Close the expensive Columbia Generating Station

The Oregonian, Robert McCullough

"Reports from many unimpeachable sources now indicate that renewables will be less expensive than the operating costs of WPPSS 2. These include the recent reports from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lazard's annual review of power costs, and the studies supporting the closure of California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant."

June 29, 2016
Our future is in green energy, not aging, costly nuclear plants
The Seattle Times, Robert McCullough

"Washington State’s nuclear power plant — WPPSS 2 — is a relic of an energy plan begun in the 1960s and built with technology from the 1970s. It is an 8-Track tape player in an iPad world."

May 12, 2016
Diesel tax on heavy trucks is right move
The Portland Tribune, Robert McCullough

"Over the past 50 years, the real tax per gallon — both gasoline and diesel — has declined by one-third. Total road mileage in use is harder to find, but we do know that it has increased by 20 percent since the 1990s."

January 19, 2016
A good time for a sensibly managed Portland gas tax
The Oregonian, Robert McCullough

"The arguments for a gas tax increase are compelling. ... In case the price shock at the pump has faded from our collective memories, retail gasoline prices are roughly half the level we paid five years ago. This is a tremendous windfall, and some, at least, should be put to a good use."

 

2015

October 15, 2015
A plan to fix Portland's roads
The Oregonian, Robert McCullough

"How did the transportation hub of Oregon and Washington get such bad roads? Stripped of the rhetoric, Portland's streets are the moral equivalent of the back yard shed you never get around to repainting."

 

2014

December 2014
Nuclear Winter
Electricity Policy, Robert McCullough, Garrett Oursland, Rose Anderson

"The problems facing the nuclear industry are national in scope and appear to be enduring in effect. Only a major change in the economics of the industry is likely to avoid market-based nuclear plant closures in years to come."

 

2013

August 22, 2013
Transparency in fuel pricing is long overdue
Capitol Journal, Robert McCullough

Robert McCullough argues that price transparency is required in other energy markets like electricity and natural gas, and it is about time that similar rules are applied to gasoline markets.

April 2013
It's time to consider a less-costly U.S. energy plan
The Oregonian, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough

Robert McCullough critiques United States national energy policy. He argues that oil is both less regulated than and more expensive than other fuels, and yet the United States continues to export domestic coal and natural gas at cheap prices. In the end, McCullough puts forth a two-point strategy that would address these issues.

2012

November 2012
Are electric vehicles actually cost-effective?
Electricity Policy, Robert McCullough

Robert McCullough responds to a study by the Congressional Budget Office which found that electric vehicles are not cost effective. He refutes a series of crucial assumptions which were posited by the CBO. After introducing and justifying a set of new assumptions, McCullough finds that electric vehicles are cost-effective across broad ranges in the price of batteries, gasoline, and electricity.

November 2012
Portland's energy credits: The trouble with buying 'green'
The Oregonian, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough

Robert McCullough criticizes Portland Mayor Sam Adams for the purchase of renewable energy credits. He argues that such an action by a city is, in fact, a waste of city resources. If the city of Portland wants to decrease dependence on fossil fuels, McCullough argues, they ought to promote the use of electric vehicles. -- The Oregonian, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough

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2009

July 2009
Fingerprinting the Invisible Hands
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

Robert McCullough discusses how opaque markets inflate power prices: "In the administered North American electricity markets, a high level of secrecy concerning bids, bidders, and computations is currently the norm. The decision to maintain such secrecy has little discussion and the impacts of secrecy on prices and efficiency have never been comprehensively studied. One of the very few surveys of transparency in this area, a CRA report prepared in 2007, concludes that '[f]ew, if any, of the markets had evaluated information disclosure explicitly for its effects on competition or market efficiency.' In practice, the issue of transparency has been left to Adam Smith's 'invisible hands.'

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2008

February 2008
The High Cost of Restructuring
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough, Berne Martin Howard and Michael Deen

RTO Markets aren't living up to the promise of cheap power.

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2006

March 27, 2006
A Decisive Time for LNG
Daily Astorian, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough and Ann Stewart

LNG's place in an efficient energy economy.

February 15, 2006
Utilities and Trade Secrets: Retain the Openness in Utility Regulation
The Oregonian, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough

The importance of public accessibility to information about utilities' operations and infrastructure.

February 9, 2006
Opening the Books
The Oregonian, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough

"Enron, in spite of recent evidence, will eventually fade away.  The issue that lawyers and economists call transparency -- openness -- will not.  The basic protections for consumers and investors have against fraud is information. . . The best way to avoid a repetition of such schemes is to make sure that public policy in Oregon continues to provide the citizens of Oregon with open information on the operations of the electric infrastructure that is critical for their lives."

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2005

August 2, 2005
Squeezing Scarcity from Abundance
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

Analyzes the California Energy Crisis and critiques regulatory attempts.


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2003

March 25, 2003
Revisiting California
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

A follow-up to Price Spike Tsunami: How Market Power Soaked California: "the crisis turned out to be a problem in institutions and not resources", and "California's restructuring was characterized by six words - 'bad design, bad incentives, bad results'."

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2002

July 9, 2002
Opinion Editorial
Seattle Times, Opinion Editorial, Robert McCullough

Analyzes Seattle City Light's actions during the California crisis.

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2001

February 1, 2001
Letter to the Governor: What Oregon Should Know About the ISO
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Dec. 15 order proposing remedies for calming runaway prices in the western power markets was largely disconnected from the ongoing crisis. . . . The result, amply shown in this order, has been to cancel the parts of the experiment that do not agree with FERC's beliefs, without really focusing on the underlying problems."

January 1, 2001
Price Spike Tsunami: How Market Power Soaked California
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

Cover story article detailing market power abuses in California.

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1999

March 1, 1999
Electric Competition, One Year Later: Winners and Losers in California
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

"California's Electric Restructuring Plan, launched April 1, 1998, marks one of the most ambitious attempts in U.S. history to place the state in a social engineering role." How has the experiment gone?

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1998

July 15, 1998
California's Electricity Market: Are Customers Necessary? Why Competitive energy suppliers see retail consumers as a burden under the current rules
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

"A careful review shows that the California Public Utilities Commission, guided by the torturous language of Assembly Bill 1890, the state's electric restructuring law, has created a situation where customers are not necessarily a part of a competitive market. While that may sound peculiar, not to say counterproductive, it simply reflects the PUC's preoccupation with theoretical market issues and its lack of interest in short-term customer welfare. As the PUC has stated many times, its major interest was in achieving a transparent pricing and market structure. It may well have succeeded but at the cost of giving up market access for the customers themselves."

March 15, 1998
Can Electricity Markets Work Without Capacity Prices?
Public Utilities Fortnightly, Robert McCullough

"Many players in the electric industry have come to believe that energy-only prices will soon replace the hundred-year tradition of pricing both energy and capacity. This idea, sometimes called "monomic" trading, offers a seductive simplicity. Even so, research indicates that it is unlikely to work well."

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