Feel Good Initiative to Increase Utility Rates Qualifies for Ballot
Of course, it's supporters say it will make everything better and make our electricity bills go down. To the story:
Renewable energy initiative qualifies for November ballot
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Voters will get to choose whether to require state utility companies to increase renewable energy sources to 15 percent of their supply by 2020.
I guess this means we'll be building a bunch more hydroelectric dams. Last I checked, hydro was cheap and rain is renewable. Sounds good. Of course, up here I'm pretty sure we already get more than 15% from hydro anyway, so this doesn't sound like a big deal.
Elections officials announced Tuesday that Initiative 937, which would also require utilities to invest in energy conservation programs, qualified for the November ballot.
Ah, here's where we get around to the Statists imposing their will on others. Given that power companies aren't the primary power users, why exactly are they bent on forcing the power company to have conservation programs? I mean, besides the fact that if they tried forcing the actual consumers to conserve, nobody would vote for the thing. But as long as it's someone else being forced to do something...
Supporters say the measure would stabilize rates for electricity customers, offer economic development opportunities for rural communities and add jobs, all while helping lower emissions.
So, um, forcing utilities to buy power that's dependant on the wind blowing and/or the sun shining for its generation is supposed to stabilize rates?
“It sets the stage for us to have a diverse energy mix that’s clean and affordable,” said Bryan Flint, spokesman for the I-937 campaign. “It’s a reasonable measure and it puts the market pressures into place so that investors in solar, wind and biomass know that there’s a steady future for their investments.”
When did forcing companies to buy something become putting "market pressures into place?" I'm sorry, that's called putting coercive measures into place, and making other people help pay for your own personal preference for where your electricity comes from. Given that demand for electricity is constantly increasing, if "investors in solar, wind, and biomass" can produce power at costs that are competitive with other sources, then they'll have "a steady future for their investments." What this initiative is telling me is that the greenie statists are basically admitting that those sources aren't competitive, and that they need laws forcing power companies to buy their product.
Under the initiative, utilities with more than 25,000 customers would have to meet 15 percent of their annual load with resources such as wind power, solar energy or sewage gas.
Sewage gas...interesting. Given the volume of bovine excrement spewing forth from the governments of King County and the city of Seattle, that could be a great source.
Under current law, utilities are already required to offer customers the option of investing in renewable energy, by paying extra on their monthly bill.
Apparently, that's not working. Who knew that they wouldn't be able to get enough people to volunteer to pay more for their electricity?
Last year, Puget Sound Energy began operating a $200 million wind farm in southeastern Washington and has said it expects to have a second wind farm operating later this year in Kittitas County.
PSE spokesman Roger Thompson said the utility was looking to add even more renewable resources to its portfolio. PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and more than 700,000 natural gas customers, primarily in the Puget Sound region.
“Our goal is to provide or secure up to 10 percent of our customers’ power supply from renewables by 2013,” he said. “We don’t foresee any problem meeting the targets spelled in the initiative.”
A spokesman for Avista Corp., which has 338,000 electric customers in Washington and Idaho and 297,000 natural gas customers in Washington, said Avista is already on course to use more renewables, like wind, in its portfolio.
“It’s not really an issue for us, because we’re going to meet it anyway,” spokesman Hugh Imhof said. “The only problem we have with it is that it mandates these percentages and that can potentially lead to higher costs for our customers.”
OK, so then the power companies are getting their power from 'renewable' sources anyway (still no mention of more clean, renewable hydro though...odd), so why do we need a law? Oh yeah, so the greeny Statists can feel morally superior, and so they can have a precedent for upping the minimum threshold.
One other thought: do you realize that this can give providers of approved 'renewable' power the power to greatly jack up their rates? Think about it: you own Acme Electricity Co., and you need 1,000 megawatt-hours to meet demand from your customers. But you can only get 13 MW/hrs of approved 'renewable' power, so you've got to go shopping for that last 2 MW/hrs. Now the owners of the Watermelon Sun & Wind Generating Company have you over a barrel, because they know you have to have thier power, or you'll get in trouble with the state. So, they can charge you whatever they want, and you'll have to pay it, at least until their power costs more than the fines you'd have to pay for buying the same amount of juice from Smoky's Coal Burning Power.
Now I know the folks who wrote this just want to feel good about themselves...inflation is somewhere between 2-3% a year anyway, and demand for power is growing even faster, what with the ever increasing number of electrical gadgets people use, so that 4% tripping point is going to get hit just about every year. Which means the whole thing is just about worthless.
Supporters of I-937 note that under the initiative, if there is more than a 4 percent increase in rates in any one year, then the utilities are allowed to meet a lesser standard.
This thing just needs to go away and die. Unfortunately, nobody's going to run any kind of campaign against it, and it'll pass, and we'll have handed Leviathan that much more power, all so the greeny Statists can feel good about themselves.
Things You Might Have Missed
Partly because they've been mostly ignored by the MSM.
First up, an AP story run on a local TV station. I found the story in an Army IED newsletter from back in June.
US Commander Says IEDs Not Taking the Toll They Used To
The article mentions that US troops are getting better at spotting IEDs before they detonate. Note that this article was from shortly before the Iraqis started blowing each other up in earnest.
Next, from the Washington Times on June 17th. The headline is that military leaders expect US troops to be needed in Iraq for the next 10 years. If you're familiar with counter-insurgency fights such as Malaysia in the 50s and El Salvador in the 80s, the timeline shouldn't be much of a surprise.
The really interesting bit comes at the end, and it doesn't make today's media look good:
One retired officer attendee made notes and e-mailed his minutes of the session to other officers. The notes say there was general agreement on one issue: the "mainstream media" largely ignores progress. A commander said an embedded reporter filed a generally positive story on the operation in Tal Afar, only to see his stateside editors gut it and apply a negative spin.
In fact, editors have grown increasingly resistant to embedding reporters with combat units, something they demanded be done before the invasion in March 2003. The purported reason: They think contact with U.S. service members hurts the reporters' objectivity.
"They come to see the world through the eyes of the troops," said the retired officer's e-mail.
Memo to newspaper editors everywhere: The American public wants to read stories that identify with the troops in the field. Remember Ernie Pyle? Do they still teach about him in journo school? Ernie Pyle was the most popular war reporter of WWII, precisely because he spent all his time with the front line troops. He told readers what the war was like for them. He could have hung out at SHAEF and regurgitated press releases, just like most reporters seem to do today. But if he had, he would have failed at his job. He went to where the troops, the line dogs were. He told their stories, warts and all. And the public ate those stories up, because they wanted to know about what 'their boys' were doing, what they were going through, what life was like for them.
Bottom line: Ernie Pyle sold newspapers. Last I checked, the job of newspapermen is still to sell newspapers. Put your reporters with the troops, let them tell the stories. Those stories will sell newspapers.
And last, but not least, I found the lead for this story in a Houston Chronicle story about businesses that employ Guard and Reserve troops. Good story, factual and even handed, IMO. The story mentioned employers that had received DoD awards for their support of employees who are in the Guard and Reserve. So, I went a looked up the DoD press release that named all 15 companies that received the award for 2006.
Those companies are:
AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Fargo, ND
Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America, Minneapolis, MN
Baptist Health, Little Rock, AR
BNSF Railway Co., Fort Worth, TX
Cardi's Furniture, Swanea, MA
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, CA
DuPont, Wilmington, DE
Fred Fletemeyer Co., Colorado Springs, CO
MGM Mirage, Las Vegas, NV
Skyline Membership Corp., West Jefferson, NC
South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Dept., Pierre, SD
Starbucks Corp., Seattle, WA
State of Vermont
Sun Valley General Improvement District, Sun Valley, NV
Note to Red states: two of the bluest of Blue states made the list. I don't normally have much good to say about Massachusetts, but they're doing good in this department. I also note that, despite Starbucks being generally left-leaning, they're on the side of the angels here. I wonder if any mobilized barristas tell their buddies what they do? Especially since the military would grind to a halt without coffee-having actual good coffee (Army coffee is pretty much the most vile stuff on earth) would be a big force multiplier