Former Montana PSC member and Western EIM board member Travis Kavulla has joined NRG as its new VP for regulatory affairs. Prior to joining NRG, Kavulla oversaw energy and environmental policy for the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank.
Joining NRG offers a chance to “practice what you preach,” Kavulla said in a blog post on the company’s website. NRG serves more than 3.1 million customers in the U.S. and Canada.
Kavulla has long been an outspoken advocate for increasing market competition in the electric power sector.
“Electricity is one of the last businesses in America that continues to be dominated by monopolies in many states,” he writes. As a utility regulator in Montana, he frequently clashed with NorthWestern Energy over matters involving market exposure.
Kavulla’s time on the Montana PSC only increased his support for market competition. As a commissioner, he “was frequently asked to bless the big decisions proposed by a monopoly utility, and as a regulator I tried to scrutinize every aspect of the filings that were submitted to me,” he says in the post.
Such extensive regulatory oversight “is not a substitute for making companies compete against one another for the business of customers,” Kavulla says.
“States like Texas offer a shining example of a competitive marketplace that has served customers well,” he writes. “As a result, the arguments against empowering customers have never been weaker. And the reasons to give customers a choice in their energy provider—both cost savings and environmental benefits—have only grown stronger over the years.”
Power markets were not set up, though, to deliver on environmental goals, and that blind spot could lead to more proactive regulatory oversight, he says.
In his role at NRG, he says he aims “to promote innovative policy solutions that allow states to achieve progress on environmental goals, without sacrificing the customer benefits derived from a competitive marketplace.”