Providing support in energy litigation, negotiation, and research to governments, industries, utilities, and First Nations peoples from California to Quebec.


Providing support in energy litigation, negotiation, and research to governments, industries, utilities, and aboriginal peoples from California to Quebec.

New Media

Look More Closely Before You Leap

SPP has a reputation for illiquidity, fanciful and volatile prices, and slow settlements. In seeking suppliers for a consumer-owned utility, I was surprised that only two of thirty possible suppliers showed interest. The most common response from the traders was that their risk managers did not allow trades in SPP.


When issues in the energy market need transparency, Robert McCullough (’76) gets the call. An economist and prominent figure in the energy arena, McCullough has built an illustrious career combing through scores of data to unravel scandals, solve mysteries and deliver laser-sharp analyses.

Summer Has Long Stressed Electric Grids. Now Winter Does, Too.

The New York Times – Ivan Penn
U.S. grids are also struggling because they are importing less power during the winter from Canada. Demand for electricity in that country is growing strongly, and a decline in rain and snow has reduced supply from its hydroelectric power plants, said Robert McCullough of McCullough Research, an energy consulting firm based in Portland, Ore.

New Articles

Whither Hydro-Québec?

High above René Lévesque Boulevard in Montreal looms the redoubt of Hydro-Québec — long one of the most secretive utilities in North America. While resource plans at other utilities in Canada and the U.S. can run to thousands of pages — including detailed studies of markets, technologies, loads and transmission — Hydro-Québec’s periodic Strategic Plans have slowly but surely shrunk to a minimalist report announcing their existence, their profound popularity and their contribution to the Quebec economy.

In March, the tiniest glimmer of information was released from la
forteresse d’Hydro-Québec.

Increasing U.S. Oil Production During Ukraine Invasion

Successful oil sanctions against Russia will cause less harm to the world economy if U.S. oil production ramps up. Unfortunately, the U.S. response to high oil prices has been slow and cautious. To meet needs in Europe, the U.S. may need to consider financing support for independent wildcatters in mid-continental oil fields to accelerate U.S. oil production.

One Tomb Raider Good: Two Tomb Raiders Better

The poorly drafted New York contract will probably face many of the same problems that the similarly drafted contract with Massachusetts has had in New Hampshire and Maine. The lack of transparency creates suspicions, the lack of co-operation creates enemies, and the lack of environmental substance creates opponents. All three problems are relatively easy to solve — however, I think we will find that if one tomb raider is good, two are better is the wrong model.

New Reports

Comments on SB X1-2 Workshop on Maximum Gross Gasoline Refining Margin and Penalty

Restrictions to the maximum margin changes the incentives for any number of market abuses ranging from exaggerated public announcements to wash trades designed to raise the OPIS index. The management of the refineries will exercise more supervision over their California operations if they face the incentive to do so. Absent such incentives, the unexplained market events experienced over the past decade will continue.

West Coast Gasoline Price Excursions in September 2022

In September 2022, West Coast consumers saw the second highest gasoline prices in history even while global oil prices were falling.

Data from the federal Energy Information Administration and the California Energy Commission indicate that production did not decrease during the period of the high prices.

McCullough Research concludes that West Coast refineries’ explanations that unforeseen shortages cause gasoline price increases are questionable, considering that the usual practice is to build inventory to cover sales during operational shutdowns. The attached memo finds little evidence that a supply shortage caused the price spike.

Market surveillance and transparency assure efficient markets, yet the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission do not provide routine surveillance, and until the nation’s gasoline and oil markets are subject to the same procedures that are routine for all other energy markets, the West Coast is vulnerable to market manipulation.

Ensuring Transparency in Petroleum Markets

The economic impacts of the Russian Federation’s war on Ukraine have surprised many. The rapid increase in oil prices reflect a legitimate concern that the world’s largest oil ex-porter – Russia – may restrict exports or be subject to international boycotts or embargoes. However, in many cases, public perceptions of the United States and its energy balance have lagged behind market developments. This has led to unfounded fears of a 1970s style energy crisis.

The most effective policy to curb Russian aggression in Ukraine is to displace Putin’s oil exports with enhanced U.S. production while protecting U.S. consumers from unnecessary price increases at the pump.

I have conclusions and recommendations in three areas: transparency, drilling, and windfall taxes