People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, April 09, 2007

On Energy Reregulation

Everyone in the commonwealth is in a dither (especially our many elected representatives; go figure) over the fact that electric utility companies have begun slapping consumers with higher electric bills, and because of warnings coming from those same companies that consumers can expect even more massive charges coming down the pike.

All blame deregulation. All favor reregulation. All are misguided.

A primer:
Virginia's electric power play
By Jerry Ellig, writing in the Washington Times

Electricity markets have changed in unanticipated ways since legislators passed Virginia's original electricity restructuring legislation in 1999.

Virginia's 1999 legislation permitted consumers to buy electricity from any company licensed by the state to sell electricity. Utilities' electric rates were frozen until 2010, with some exceptions for fuel price increases.

The biggest utility, Dominion Virginia Power, could seek rate increases linked to increased fuel prices this July. The theory behind the legislation was that competition would gradually become strong enough that the utilities' prices could be reregulated.

But few competitors showed up. As in many states, Virginia's rate caps gave competitors little room to undercut incumbent utilities. Consumers got a break on rates, whether they bothered to shop around or not. Consumers who switched paid the utility a "wires charge" calculated to give much of their savings to the utility.

As a result, only 1,300 residential customers bought electricity from someone other than their utility in 2006, according to the Virginia State Corporation Commission. (link)
Here's the nut of it:

● Electricity was "deregulated" in 1999.

● In the process, our "deregulated" electric rates were frozen in time, by law, until 2010.

● And permanent caps were placed on rate increases in our deregulated system.

● And we declared this rate-capped, for-a-time-rate-frozen utility to be deregulated.

As a result of this bewilderingly boneheaded attempt at introducing free market conditions into our electricity delivery system, in a manner Vladimir Ilyich Lenin would admire, strangling any actual opportunity for market forces to gain traction, we become completely shocked by the fact that (a) no competitors show up to challenge our existing utility companies and take advantage of this still-heavily regulated industry, (b) only 1,300 users are able to purchase electricity from a competitor, and (c) rates that have been frozen for ten years are soon to skyrocket.

Now everyone is calling deregulation a failure and is clamoring for reregulation.

If what we had was deregulation, I'd hate to see what regulation is.

I'll Take a Piece Of That

If I promise to not raise a herd of flatulent cows, am I entitled to a chunk of this?

Just asking.

If You Build It, They Will Come

A lesson for those (mostly up in Northern Virginia) who believe they can lasso and contain our capitalist way of life, short of declaring martial law and sending in the 8th Army:
In Success of ‘Smart Growth,’ New Jersey Town Feels Strain
By Ken Belson, The New York Times

Washington Township, N.J. — The neighborhoods here seem plucked from an urban planner’s catalog: trimmed lawns, picket fences and freshly minted homes. Shopping is an easy stroll away on the wide sidewalks. A greenbelt wraps the town like a bow.

But there is growing frustration with the very thing that attracted thousands of families here in the first place: a high-density “smart-growth” development in the middle of town.

That project, the 400-acre Washington Town Center — designed according to state planning goals as a remedy to suburban sprawl — has become a victim of its own success, town officials and residents said. So many families have flocked to Washington Township, eight miles east of Trenton in Mercer County, in the nine years since construction began that the schools are overflowing, property taxes are skyrocketing and the main streets are clogged.

Overwhelmed, town officials have turned trailers into classrooms, eliminated a separate ... (link)
They attempted to be smart and control growth. In the end, they've created a right smart hellhole that's growing by leaps and bounds.

A lesson for those of you in Fairfax ...

Good. Fewer Mouths To Feed.

This is welcome news. We can apparently save a bundle on those gourmet meals we've been feeding the animals down at the zoo:

Guantánamo Detainees Stage Hunger Strike
By Tim Golden, The New York Times

A long-term hunger strike has broken out at the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with more than a dozen prisoners subjecting themselves to daily force-feeding to protest their treatment, military officials and lawyers for the detainees say.

Lawyers for several hunger strikers said their clients’ actions were driven by harsh conditions in a new maximum security complex. About 160 of the roughly 385 Guantánamo detainees have been moved to the complex since December.

Thirteen detainees are now on hunger strikes ... (link)

Thirteen. I must admit, I'm a bit disappointed. Can we go ahead and include the remainder and get this over with? In a few weeks, we'll be able to do that which the Democrats have been demanding for years now. We'll be able to close Gitmo.

For lack of need.

Really? Who Would Have Ever Guessed

This should surprise no one:
Genocide Court Ruled for Serbia Without Seeing Full War Archive
By Marlise Simons, The Roanoke Times

The Hague — In the spring of 2003, during the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, hundreds of documents arrived at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague marked “Defense. State Secret. Strictly Confidential.”

But there was a catch. Serbia, the heir to Yugoslavia, obtained the tribunal’s permission to keep parts of the archives out of the public eye. Citing national security, its lawyers blacked out many sensitive — those who have seen them say incriminating — pages. Judges and lawyers at the war crimes tribunal could see the censored material, but it was barred from the tribunal’s public records.

Now, lawyers and others who were involved in Serbia’s bid for secrecy say that, at the time, Belgrade made its true objective clear: to keep the full military archives from the International Court of Justice, where Bosnia was suing Serbia for genocide. (link)
This shouldn't shock you. The International Court of Justice has as much ultimate authority over sovereign states as does the local PTA. Maybe less. So to hear that Serbia withheld incriminating documents from the purview of the court strikes me as ... well, duh.

That's why this feckless attempt at one-world government will fail. Is failing.

Those who choose not to participate, won't. With impunity. (the USA chooses, by the way, to not participate). And that won't change.

Like Asking Politicians To Tell The Truth

Last I heard, there were some 10,000,000 bloggers pounding away at keyboards and sending garbage into the marketplace of ideas. A majority of whom actually express ideas. Some coherently. A few are even cogent. But when it comes to discipline within the ranks, well, I'm guessing this ain't ever gonna happen:

A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs
By Brad Stone, The New York Times

Is it too late to bring civility to the Web?

The conversational free-for-all on the Internet known as the blogosphere can be a prickly and unpleasant place. Now, a few high-profile figures in high-tech are proposing a blogger code of conduct to clean up the quality of online discourse.

Last week, Tim O’Reilly, a conference promoter and book publisher who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0, began working with Jimmy Wales, creator of the communal online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to create a set of guidelines to shape online discussion and debate.

Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship. (link)

If that's the extent of it, why bother?

Bloggers go into this with the understanding that they are going to be accused of all kinds of things. So what? Censorship? So what? I've deleted a number of comments from anonymous donors (because of foul sexual content mostly relating to what I can - or cannot - do to myself) and haven't given it a second thought.

Here's my code of conduct: This is my home. You want to kick off your shoes and make yourself comfortable? Wear socks. And don't have smelly feet. Or I kick your butt out. I don't feel bad about that. My home; my rules. Don't like it? Go somewhere else. I'll suffer the loss of revenue.

As for somebody establishing a universal code, I'll enjoy watching the attempt. It'll be like trying to sweep fleas across the barnyard - as Abraham Lincoln once said. Should be a hoot.