The EU rush to deregulate power industries has also caused a few problems.
For example in Ireland, ESB is a state owned company which has happily been supplying good quality service at a very compeditive price since 1927 when a nationalised power system was setup aimed at boosting the economy, helping industry and raising living standards etc.
It was a monopoly supplier. However, as a semi-state company it didn't really behave as a commercial monopoly, like for example Microsoft does. It was founded on the basis of public service not to squeeze every last drop of profit out of the network and its customers as possible.
When deregulation came into vogue in Ireland legislation was passed which effectively prevented the ESB from expanding their generating capacity by either augmenting exsisting plants or going ahead with planned new plants. This was because as the former monopoly supplier and as they had a very high market share they were not allowed to increase it further. However, the private companies that came in did not manage to get large enough plants on stream fast enough to keep the network at a comfortable capacity. The result was that due to rapid growth in electry consumption coupled with the fact that the ESB was legally hog tied that the network has come very close on a few occasions to exceeding capacity.
Emergency measures had to be implemented on a number of occasions e.g. ESB had to hire generator ships and moor them in harbours around the country to augment supply.
Legislation was also passed in breech of EU directives to allow the ESB to fill the gap by expanding power plants as it would be extremely damaging to the Irish economy if we had power failures, much more so than having the ESB remain the dominant player in the market.
ESB's a weird company in some ways. It tends to do everything in-house including fully designing their own power plants and network using a subsiduary ESBI. Stranger still, they're actually designing plants for their compeditors! http://www.esbi.ie/
I think we have to really think about how electricity is supplied. As a resource it's almost as important as Air and Water! A power failure could cripple a country and cause tens of millions of Euro/dollar/pounds/yen of damage.
[This message has been edited by djk (edited 09-28-2003).]