Ah, Springtime, when a boy's thoughts turn to love. And
baseball, which is pretty much the same thing.
At this writing,
it's not quite March, which is probably a little early to
start worrying about spring, but the SCROOMtimes editorial
offices are in beautiful Northern California, where winter
means that it rains a lot and the temperature during the
day gets down to all of 55 degrees. You'll have to forgive
a little early celebration.
And we need to take all the reasons to celebrate that we
can up here. I'm sure you've all heard about the power
crisis. It's pretty real, the rolling blackouts, high
prices (my PG&E bills this winter are up about 30%), etc.
It's not pretty, but that's what we get for letting Pete
Wilson and his rich friends give it to us up the ass, er,
put de-regulation through.
This whole thing is partially real, partially created to
make a bunch of rich folks money, partially the fault of
all those idiots (including Cisco) who refused to let
power plants be built in California, and partially a lot of
over-reaction by everybody.
- Power demand in California has gone up dramatically
in recent years. Yeah, there's been a lot of immigration,
both foreign and from other states. 100K people per
year, according to some estimates. But let's not forget
the internet. Do you have any idea how much power it
takes to run a server farm for Yahoo, or an ISP? Not to
mention the air conditioning for one of those big rooms.
For those of you with a computer on your desk, you hardly
notice. But put 100 of them in a room, and you are creating
a LOT of heat.
There is a recent study by the California ISO (the group that
is supposed to "handle" the de-regulation that suggests,
rather strongly, that the power companies' claims of a dramatic
increase in power demand is bogus, an attempt by those power
generators to use false demand to increase profits. More on
this as it develops...
- The folks who wrote the deregulation rules seemingly
were a pack of raving morons. As well as bought and
paid for by - surprise! The electric industry. A
- The utilities were ordered to sell their power
generation facilities. They promptly bought
more - in other states. And electric utilities
in other states (Duke Power, among others)
bought plants from PG&E and Southern Cal Edison.
- The utilities were not allowed to buy electricity
using long-term contracts, forcing them to buy on
the spot market. In most realistic cases, this is
going to cost a LOT more money, unless generation
capabilities constantly go up.
- You haven't heard much from Los Angeles - that's because
they have their own municipal power utility, and
weren't affected by the state's stupid policies.
Sacramento is in the same position - hey! a bunch of
idiots making decisions that don't really affect them!
What a surprise!
- The northwest (Washington, Oregon) have been having a
drier-than-normal winter. This means less water in their
hydroelectric systems, so they have less power to sell to
California than normal.
- Power plants need a LOT of maintenance. To do this maintenance,
they have to be shut down for a time. This is usually done in
the winter, since the demand is less. When PG&E owned all the
plants, they scheduled these maintenance outages so that
multiple plants weren't down at the same time. But now that
different entities own different plants (Duke, Calpine), they
shut them down on their own schedule. Several at the same time.
Er, Mr De-Regulator, guess you forgot about that part, eh?
- NIMBY-ism is rampant. Even Cisco, a huge company building a
huge new facility, which will be using a lot of power, fights
against Calpine building a power plant near said facility.
Doesn't really affect them, they are going to have an on-site
generation facility, I hear. It's not that folks wouldn't let
them build nuclear plants, as some think, but they wouldn't
let them build ANY plants. No new power plants in the last
15 years in California.
So basically, weather, capitalism, greed, and selfishness have pretty
much caused this problem. In the process, PG&E has lost 12 billion
dollars - oh, did they forget to mention that they earned over 3
billion in the same period? Mr. De-Regulator wrote the law specifically
so that they are required to keep that seperate from the losses. PG&E's
parent company gave out HUGE dollars in the form of dividends to
investors. Still any doubts as to who was supplying the pens to
Ah well, summer is coming, the days are longer. When the next blackout
hits, I'll just head outside with a book. Time to get some more candles!