The New Energy Crunch

A crazy deregulation plan leaves California short of electricity. And the damage could spread to the whole economy

According to the laws of Mother Nature, electricity follows the path of least resistance. Mother apparently hasn't been hanging around California recently, where last week rolling blackouts spread darkness at noon across some of the richest cropland, most complex high-tech factories and busiest streets in America.

The blackouts were the latest and most painful phase of a statewide energy crisis that has been years in the making and continues to worsen, triggered by a spectacularly twisted and shortsighted deregulation plan. It has enraged consumers and businessmen even as it has pushed California's two largest utilities toward bankruptcy. It threatens to undermine...

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