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ePub Power Play: The Fight to Control the World’s Electricity download

by Sharon Beder

ePub Power Play: The Fight to Control the World’s Electricity download
Author:
Sharon Beder
ISBN13:
978-1565848085
ISBN:
156584808X
Language:
Publisher:
The New Press (July 1, 2003)
Category:
Subcategory:
Industries
ePub file:
1336 kb
Fb2 file:
1492 kb
Other formats:
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Rating:
4.3
Votes:
616

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The electricity companies fought back. Sharon Beder is the author of numerous books, including Global Spin, Selling the Work Ethic, and The Nature of Sustainable Development. She is currently associate professor at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

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Beder, Sharon (2003). Power Play: The fight for control of the world's electricity. Australia: Scribe Publications. Environmental Principles and Policies (UNSW Press, Sydney, Australia Paperback, ISBN 978-0-86840-857-6, Publication date: September 2006) & EARTHSCAN, London, UK Paperback, ISBN 978-1-84407-404-4, Publication date: October 2006).

Power play explores the battles between private and public ownership in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia since the early 20th century, and the powerful agenda-setting and public relatins strategies used to secure victory for private interests. It investigates the way that developing countries such as Brazil and India have been forced to allow foreign investors to excercise a stranglehold over their electricity systems.

Beder notes justly on the opening page of her book, The privatisation of electricity is not something that citizens have .

Beder notes justly on the opening page of her book, The privatisation of electricity is not something that citizens have demanded or wanted. The volume details the struggle for control over this basic form of energy, ranging from the early days in the United States, when Thomas Edison first conceived of the idea of selling electricity, to the post-World War II era of the International Monetary Fund’s free market restructuring. Power Play painstakingly documents the impact on electricity of what become known in the 1970s as neoliberalism in Europe, neoconservatism in the US, and economic rationalism or economic fundamentalism in Australia.

This book proves this point with respect to the privatization of utilities. In this book, the author shows: 1. How the control of power generation, transmission, and usage has shifted back and forth between the public and private (corporate) sphere over the last century.

Throughout this history, the control of electricity generation and distribution has sparked considerable controversy. In the past 15 years, such controversy has centered on a wave of deregulation and privatization

Throughout this history, the control of electricity generation and distribution has sparked considerable controversy. In the past 15 years, such controversy has centered on a wave of deregulation and privatization. This book, by an Australian academic with the instinct of a muckraker, is an expose of the ideology, unfounded claims, and corporate interest that drove such widespread privatization

Power Play: The fight for control of the world's electricity.

Sharon Beder is an honorary professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia.

As electrification spread across America in the early twentieth century, private corporations moved quickly to reap unprecedented profits from millions of new paying customers. Blocking their path was the widespread view that electricity was a basic need and that its production should be regulated—if not owned outright—by the public. The electricity companies fought back, buying up newspapers, radio stations, and politicians, and flooding the schools with free, pro-industry schoolbooks. Their actions heralded the advent of corporate public relations, and form a major chapter in the history of the industry.

In an eye-opening investigation, Sharon Beder’s Power Play reveals the decades-long struggle to wrest control of electricity from public hands. Her analysis ranges from the machinations of American political power to grassroots struggles in South Asia aimed at stemming the environmental degradation caused by multinational energy providers. In so doing, she sets the stage for understanding the damage done by deregulation, the roots of the Enron scandal, and the contemporary debacle of electricity supply.

  • Hegel once remarked that the only thing people learn from history is that people have learned nothing from history. To that end, the philosopher no doubt would have been intrigued by Sharon Beder's outstanding book "Power Play." In it, the author shows how the neo-liberal ideologies and financial self-interests that once conspired to create chaos in the electric power industry in the 1930s have been resurrected in our own time to produce similarly disastrous results. Importantly, her analysis helps us understand what needs to be done to restore order to an out-of-control system that garners most of its profits at the public's expense.
    In my estimation, Sharon Beder has established herself as one of the most articulate critics of corporate power. As a Professor of Social Sciences, Media and Communications in Australia, Ms. Beder has demonstrated in prior books such as "Global Spin" a remarkable knack for deconstructing propaganda and uncovering the agendas that are often hidden behind corporate messages. I found "Power Play" to be a carefully reasoned, well-supported and convincing piece of research that makes for compelling reading.
    The book is divided into five sections. The first deals with the history of power politics in the U.S. for most of the 20th century. We learn how private interests used the media and political influence to promote deregulation, and how the industry's eventual implosion was a major contributing factor in the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression. The second section discusses the push to deregulate in the latter part of the century to the present day. We see how legislation enacted in the 1930s to protect against corporate abuse was eventually rolled back, which in turn set the stage for companies like Enron to suffer a fate similar to that which befell Samuel Insull's energy empire in the 1930s.
    The third, fourth and fifth sections deal with deregulation in Britain, Australia and other parts of the world. The global perspective provided by Ms. Beder is useful. Clearly, ideology and financial interests have been the driving forces behind the privatization agenda; interestingly, we learn that the outcomes in various locales have been remarkably similar. Ms. Beder relates how large corporations are often able to exercise market power in order to extort unusually large fees from their customers. The winners are large industrial users and the banks, investors and consultants working on behalf of the energy companies. The losers include taxpayers, farmers, the poor, small businesses and the environment.
    In my opinion, although "Power Play" does not explicitly tie the economic inefficiencies of the deregulated power industry with the current economic downturn, it provides ample evidence that the crisis in the power industry significantly contributes to job loss and siphons capital from other productive sectors of the economy. For example, the author explains that privatized energy companies often cut payrolls in order to boost bottom-line profits. Ms. Beder also shows how obscene profits earned by a few large corporations such as Enron often act as a drag on local economies. The leading example of course is California, where escalating prices forced many businesses to shut down. Moreover, the payments that the state was forced to make to greedy suppliers during the energy crisis easily exceeds the state's current budget deficit, causing hardship for many.
    Interestingly, "Power Play" was completed prior to the 2003 blackout in the U.S. and Canada. This unfortunate event validates Ms. Beder's work. The author points out that the dynamics of an unregulated market and the quest for instant profits provides a disincentive for producers to maintain equipment and transmission lines, resulting in more frequent failures and service disruptions. Ms. Beder goes on to point out that the expense and risk associated with added capacity is increasingly borne by the public even while profits accrue to private interests; this assertion also appears to have been prescient, as witnessed by the huge subsidies that the U.S. government has recently proposed to pay for upgrades to the country's electric grid for the benefit of many privately-held energy producers.
    By cutting through the smokescreen of self-serving corporate propaganda, "Power Play" serves as a wakeup call for citizens everywhere. It helps us understand how we might be able to reverse this trend for the better before more damage is inflicted on us all.

  • It has been said that each new generation forgets the mistakes of those that came before it. This book proves this point with respect to the privatization of utilities. The auhor delves into the history of electric and power privatization in industrial countries since 1900, with an emphasis on the US and UK, the two countries with the longest history of mass electricity usage. In this book, the author shows:
    1. How the control of power generation, transmission, and usage has shifted back and forth between the public and private (corporate) sphere over the last century.
    2. The times of public control saw minimal blackouts or rationing, low and steady rates, high investment in environmentally friendly technology, and high investment in research for more efficient technology.
    3. The times of private control saw numerous blackouts and rationing, high and increasing rates, minimal investment in environmentally friendly technology, and low investment in research for more efficient technology.
    4. The drive for privatization is always from big corporations who are either large-scale consumers of electricity, or large-scale producers of electricity.
    5. The drive for public control always results from the poor service provided by privately-owned utilities.
    6. Any time public and privately held utilities operated in the same geographical marketplace, the public utilities ALWAYS offer lower rates and more dependable service.
    7. The switch from privately owned utilities to public control is always due to overwhelming public pressure at the grassroots level.
    8. The switch to deregulate public utilities is due to propaganda put out by corporations and their sponsored think tanks.
    9. The electricity industry by its nature and evolution in America is a prototypical natural monopoly and trying to privatize different segments of it leads to chaos.
    10. Over the last decade, both the Bush and Clinton administrations contrived with Enron to force other countries to deregulate their utilities so Enron could buy them up and make profits on them.

    Overall, this is a great book. It shows how big corporations, primarily Western ones, have collaborated over the last century to take control of the electric utilities around the world, solely to increase their profits. I highly recommend reading it.

  • A must have book for the power industry politics in the US, the UK and Australia. Nothing has changed much in the last 100 years as far as the public vs private debate over the ownership of utilities is concerned. As one who was closely associated with the breakup of the Australian electricity industry in the 80's and 90's, I can say that Sharon Beder tells it how it was.