Saturday, January 12, 2008

To share pain, you must first create it

According to the International Herald Tribune, the California Energy Commission wants to control all household thermostats in the state:
The changes would allow utilities to adjust customers' preset temperatures when the price of electricity is soaring. Customers could override the utilities' suggested temperatures. But in emergencies, the utilities could override customers' wishes.

Final approval is expected next month.

"You realize there are times - very rarely, once every few years - when you would be subject to a rotating outage and everything would crash including your computer and traffic lights, and you don't want to do that," said Arthur Rosenfeld, a member of the energy commission.

Reducing individual customers' electrical use - if necessary, involuntarily - could avoid that, Rosenfeld said. "If you can control rotating outages by letting everyone in the state share the pain," he said, "there's a lot less pain to go around." [emphasis added]

In previous decades, the obvious solution to the problem would have been to build more plants to provide peak power. Alternatively, one could create a voluntary program that would give discounts to PG&E customers who agree to reduce power usage during emergencies. There are probably some energy-intensive businesses as well as individual households that would find this quite advantageous. However, from a liberal's view that would miss the point which is to "share the pain" and thereby achieve togetherness.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics