UPDATED Sept. 27, 2011 – Editor’s Note: Please see the bottom of this article for an important link.
I was minding my own business at home the other night following an afternoon and early evening spent outside doing some chores and enjoying the brisk fall weather. It’s that time of year when Lincoln residents begin the transition from the air conditioning that, by many, is considered a necessary part of summer comfort to the heating that’s truly a necessary part of winter survival.
Around 7:00 p.m., my evening was interrupted by a very interesting call from a pollster who represented to me that he was calling on behalf of Lincoln Electric System (LES). Intrigued, I agreed to answer a few questions. What followed was truly an electrifying experience (pun intended).
After running through a series of questions designed to determine how many “major electrical appliances” are contained in my home, their efficiency, and my habits with regard to when and how often I make use of them; the survey moved on to questions taken straight from the United Nations’ “sustainability” agenda.
Apparently, as part of its new rate structure, LES is considering acquiring the ability to control individual customers’ use of power during peak demand periods. In plain English, that means that LES may intentionally cut power to individual customers’ homes for short periods of time when aggregate demand for power is high. This enables LES to meet peaks in demand, which typically occur between 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., without buying more power from its suppliers or generating more power itself. LES could do this, according to the person doing the survey, “by remote control.”
The pollster offered me a choice of response, ranging from positive to negative on a scale of one to five. I asked if “outrageous” was an option and was told that it was not, although he did agree to make a note that “outraged” was my preferred response. The follow up question was equally disturbing. He asked me whether my response would change if LES paid me for any “inconvenience or discomfort” caused by a temporary loss of electrical service to my home. I told him my liberty and privacy interests in the sanctuary of my home were not for sale.
Although similar arrangements and resulting discounted rate structures have been available to commercial customers for some time, extending interruptible service to individual customers is a novel move.
For the time being, what LES is studying MAY BE optional and consensual. The pollster did not elaborate regarding whether customers would be able to opt into the plan or it would be imposed upon them whenever LES determined it was “necessary.” Either way, the plan may, in fact, save money in the long run. If successful, LES would be able to delay investment in additional generation capacity and not be forced to buy extra power supply to cover peak demand that grows steadily higher as its customer base expands. (For more information about LES’s plans and progress in developing a new rate structure, click HERE.)
What disturbs me is the precedent it sets for a public utility — actually, an arm of city government — to ultimately ration service on a non-consensual basis and/or in a manner dictated by the “green” agenda. Using too much electricity? Is your “carbon footprint” too big? We can take care of that for you! No problem. No problem at all.
And just in case you think I’m being paranoid, take a look at how new regulations from the Department of Energy designed to increase the energy efficiency of all your major home appliances will also increase their price beyond what you’ll ever be able to recover in energy savings over the expected life of the appliance.
The Wall Street Journal also recently published an article outlining what it calls the Environmental Protection Agency’s “unseen carbon agenda.” The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) estimates that, as a direct result of new EPA regulations adopted pursuant to this “covert” agenda, between 46 and 76 gigawatts of generating capacity will be subtracted from the U.S. grid by 2015. “To put those numbers in perspective, the worst-case scenario would amount to a reduction of about 7.2% of national power generation, and almost all of it will hit coal-fired plants, the workhorse that supplies a little over half of U.S. electricity.”
According to the article:
“NERC also warns of ‘deteriorating resource adequacy’ and of the logistical reality that replacing or upgrading so much capacity so fast may lead to brownouts and shortages. . . . The larger point is that instead of debating a carbon program on the merits, the Obama Administration is now trying to impose the same burden step by step on the sly. At this point, the only way voters can stop the EPA is to install a check in one of the other branches of government. Election Day is Tuesday.”
Perhaps LES is considering a new rate structure and commissioned the survey I took to investigate its options in light of the EPA’s new regulations. Most of the electricity LES generates is produced by the operation of coal-fired plants, as is the bulk of the energy it purchases from other generators. If the NERC’s predictions as to the impact of the EPA’s agenda are correct, and coal-fired plants are closed as a result, dare I say, Lincoln, not to mention the rest of the state, may have brownouts and power shortages to look forward to in the near future.
Perhaps it’s time to turn up the heat locally. Consider giving LES a call to discuss their new rate structure and their survey. As for doing something about the EPA’s stealth carbon agenda, the Republicans were handed a mandate on November 2 to drastically reverse the course of an over-weaning government. In addition to turning up the heat locally, consider encouraging your federal delegation to the U.S. Congress to investigate the activities of the EPA and take necessary action to curtail their activities. Contact information for Nebraska’s Senators and Congressman can be found on THIS GiN page.
Meanwhile, however, perhaps it would be…a prudent sort of “Plan B” to check out the following book:
UPDATED Sept. 27, 2011 – LES has a survey form on their website regarding rates. Please click here to visit the page on their website.