SOURCE: John Wasik

October 26, 2006 09:00 ET

More Blackouts, Higher Power Rates Coming: Award-Winning Author of "The Merchant of Power" Offers Tips on What to Do About Soaring Electricity Costs (New York Event October 30, 2006)

CHICAGO, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 26, 2006 -- Electricity prices are climbing across the U.S., although few understand what they can do about it. John Wasik, author of "The Merchant of Power," a history of the utility industry and biography of electricity titan Sam Insull, talks about where the industry has been, where it's going, and what everyone can do about the soaring cost of electricity. Wasik will share his thoughts during a talk and book-signing event at the South Street Seaport Museum, 213 Water Street, in New York, on October 30 at 7:30 p.m.

"The system that Insull created in the early 20th century is being splintered by deregulation, competition and businesses producing their own power," said Wasik. "There are more blackouts coming -- the electrical infrastructure is outdated. There's a 20-percent projected increase in power demand over the next decade, yet power capacity is only rising 6 percent."

Noting that he's seeing power-rate hikes from 10 to 55 percent across the country, Wasik said the traditional monopoly and state utility-commission structure championed by Insull "is being changed by power auctions, expansion of the grid and a shortage of power plants. Not only did Insull establish the electrical grid, he urged the formation of utility commissions to regulate his industry. He was such a powerful figure in his time, Al Capone offered his security services to Insull, who later became a model for Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane.'"

Wasik offers a number of strategies for businesses and consumers to cut their power bills, including information on the latest energy-efficient appliances, windows and doors, insulation, and more, as well as information regarding the federal tax benefits to consumers and businesses and when those offers expire.

Wasik's insights into the history of the industry have won him praise and an influential following. "One of the most magnetic and powerful con artists of the Great Depression was Sam Insull," said Pulitzer Prize winner Studs Terkel. "Patron of the arts, philanthropist and Thomas Edison's right hand, he shafted thousands of investors large and small. My mother, one of the latter, lost her bundle during his adventures. I found the work of John Wasik not only personally enthralling but an informal history of that traumatic time."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR & "THE MERCHANT OF POWER"

Wasik was awarded the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism and 17 other awards. He writes a column for Bloomberg News, the world's third-largest news service, which is distributed to more than 400 newspapers on five continents. Wasik is available for interviews. For more background on the author, his books and his work: www.johnwasik.com.

Contact Information

  • To contact the Author:
    Email Contact
    312-246-1121
    847-223-9814

    For a review copy of the book
    Colleen Schwartz
    Email Contact
    or 646-307-5563