Earlier this month I attended the Battery Show in Novi, spending the day touring the exposition side of the show and going from booth to booth to see what is new in the advanced energy storage arena. Since I was expecting this show to be all about lithium ion batteries, imagine my surprise when I spotted two different vendors touting the latest development in lead acid batteries. Can 100 year old lead acid technology outperform nickel metal hydride for plug in hybrids? Can the cost advantage of lead acid batteries blunt the inroads expected from lithium ion batteries? The answers are not nearly as intriguing as the idea that competition indeed spurs innovation. Look at how deregulation and the injection of competition unleashed changes in the telephone industry. Would we have our current cell phone capabilities if we were still renting our telephonic instruments from the regulated monopoly, Michigan Bell? Would we have virtually free long distance calling? We have come a long way since the breakup of the baby Bells in 1982. Imagine the innovation in the next 30 years if Michigan’s electric generation and electric supply were opened to competition. Competition, and not the MPSC, would regulate the rates [and they would likely go down]. Are you ready to go to the local electricity store to buy a two year electric plan with unmetered service on the weekends?