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    Will Warren Buffett be able to game the regulatory system?

Why Dominion sold its SC pipelines ...

...and why Warren Buffett bought them

By Jim Clarkson

Special to the Chronicle

Big news in the gas industry is that crony-capitalist Warren Buffett is buying Dominion Energy’s SC gas pipelines.

These lines serve many areas in the state.

Dominion is no slouch at getting government favors.

Yet Warren figures with his political connections he can game the regulatory system.

Economic textbooks tell us that assets end up in the hands of those who manage them effectively.

That's not necessarily so in regulated monopolies.

Dominion plans to use the money to invest in green energy  projects.
 
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 has been warped far beyond its original intent.

It has been used to obstruct infrastructure improvements like oil and gas pipeline expansions.

At long last the administration is going to streamline legal procedures to better serve the original intent.
 
But they’ve gone too far. 

It’s bad enough that government promotion of “corn squeezins” in gasoline is driving up corn-fed meat prices. 

Worst of all, the high prices for corn have attracted farmers away from barley.

That jeopardizes America’s beer supplies. 

Clearly this “clean energy” thing has gotten completely out of hand.

In the electricity  market, utilities have improved in the last 15 years.

That's due to the existence of non-utility power producers and competitive wholesale markets. 

Regulated utilities, feeling threatened by competition, learned to obtain supplies, increase efficiency and price properly.

We should not be content with improvements from the little competition that exists.

It’s fine to see utilities play like real market conditions exist.

But what improvements are we missing due to lack of competition? 

Jim Clarkson is CEO of Resource Supply Management, a SC company that advises heavy energy users on efficiency and their profits.

He can be reached at jclarkson@rsmenergy.com

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