Saturday, December 29, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Once upon a time; there were these corporations who made billions and billions of dollars making the world move. They supplied the fuel, and everybody was happy – for a while. But then something strange happened. You see, these corporations got together with the fuel suppliers and tried to make billions and billions more dollars. By the time the people realized what was happening, everything they owned already ran on this fuel. The corporations were very happy.
But then one day, somebody had an idea. Let's create a new way of making the world move. The corporations were not happy. They liked the way things are. They didn't want change. They called themselves conservatives. They knew they were right.
But soon after, somebody else had an idea. Let's get our energy from the Sun. It could be as simple as heating your water with sunlight, or as complete as home power self-generation. The corporations were scared then. They liked their billions and billions of dollars. They wanted more.
So, the corporations went to the government. They made friends with the government. They bought the government leaders lots of presents. They wanted the government's help. They got it. They got even more billions and billions of dollars, from taxpayers.
Thats right, the government gave the corporations money from the taxpayers – who were also paying to get the fuel – and getting sick from the fuel. But the taxpayers weren't really paying attention, so they just paid.
But then one day, somebody noticed. Hey, we work all the time to pay for things that will eventually hurt us. Even the corporations realized he made sense. But they still wanted some more billions and billions of dollars. So they made a plan:
They would let other companies invest in alternative power generation. The corporations however, would invest in coal, and make a lot money for a while. With that money, and the money from the government, they would be alright when they drop prices for a while.
So then, with prices down, the other companies wouldn't make enough to be able to pay their bills. This would make those other power companies very sad. So sad that they would sell their solar and wind machines to the corporations for next to nothing. This would make the corporations very happy. They would have complete control of the industry again...
Do you know what that means?
Merry Christmas for them.
Sorry, you get coal.
Remember, this is just a story.
It can only come true if we let it.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
If you read my previous entry, you may recall that I was raving about the unfair advantages the fossil fuel industry got (at taxpayers expense), and the likelihood the nuclear industry would receive the same.
They didn't get it. The nuclear industry didn't get the multi-billion dollar loan guarantees they had tried to sneak into the Appropriations Bill. Yes! We just saved 25 billion dollars... and maybe the alternative energy industry.
Of course, the wind/solar/etc. power companies have been crippled by Congress' continuing subsidization of the the fossil fuel industry (like they need it). But, that's the way corrupt politics has kept it for over 25 years now, and sustainable energy technology is overcoming it. Someday soon, we just might get clean, safe, and reliable power at stable prices. If we have learned anything from the past 50 years, we must know by now that we won't be getting that from the fossil fuel or nuclear industry.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I don't believe it. I didn't realize it was this bad. They're robbing us blind. They're poisoning our future. They're even risking the collapse of our civilization. And Americans grumble a little bit and keep paying their taxes. That's not how a democracy works.
Go ahead, ask anybody you know (anybody who doesn't make money through the fossil fuel industry). Ask them if they think the oil companies should continue to get billions of dollars in subsidies? It will be virtually unanimous. Hell no! But the Senate did just that. And not only that, the subsidies were supposed to go for clean energy – and now they won't.
Let me get this straight; instead of helping develop cleaner, safer, and ultimately cheaper energy generation, billions of our dollars are going to line the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. Don't they have enough of our money? Isn't global warming even on these Senators' radar? No terrorist has ever come close to this much damage. Shame on the Senate! Or at least shame on just over half of them. How could they? It's their future too. (Of course, if they had kept the Bill the way the House sent it to them, Bush Jr. would have vetoed it.)
It gets worse. Now, Republican Senator Pete Domenici has slipped a little something into the 2008 Appropriations Bill – 25 BILLION dollars in loan guarantees for the nuclear power industry. And this is after a public outcry forced him to drop the multi-billion dollar give away in a previous Bill.
Doesn't Pete remember Chernobyl? That's got to be the worst industrial accident in history. They told us it was safe back then too. And for Americans to be forced to pay billions of dollars to risk our health even more? Especially when wind/solar/etc. energy is working. Yes, in spite of the fossil fuel industry's unfair subsidy advantage, private investors are developing and building clean power generation – now.
So, “our” government wants to give the nuclear industry a multi-billion dollar unfair advantage also?
When dirty money becomes systematically more important to our "leaders" than the future of our country, the future of humanity, and even the future of life on Earth; this becomes more than just overwhelming corruption. I would call the corrupt politicians who sell out to these even more corrupt corporations whores, but that would be an insult to prostitutes. No, if I'm to stoop to name calling, I'll call them fascists. That's right, I used the “f” word. They're acting just like FASCISTS! Our government has essentially been infiltrated by fascists, who intend to allow the highest bidders to drain us dry - and leave nothing behind. Sure, they'll tell you they're freedom loving defenders of democracy. But did you expect them to tell you?
When we think about fascism, we tend to think about Nazis and militarism. We don't often think about why fascists do what they do. There is a reason. Bullys aren't bullys just to push others around. They have a reason. Usually its that they want something... actually everything. Militarism is a tool, a tool to concentrate wealth in the hands of the greedy. When the greed becomes all-powerful, self-destructive, and effectively insane; we no longer have capitalism. Its getting to the point where we are beginning to have fascism.
Something is terribly wrong when our government ignores the people (and common sense) to enrich the corporations who are raping our environment, our economy, and our future – when better alternatives are right here.
We are witnessing the organized destruction of a part of our future – to make a few people hideously rich. This is worse than monopolistic behavior. This is mean-spirited, self-destructive, oligopolistic behavior... you know, like fascism. Wasn't it Mussolini that said fascism should be called corporatism? Corporations don't even have the vote, but they have vastly more power than us. It appears some corporations even have power over our government officials.
Please Pete, please Congress, prove to us you're not fascists. Do the right thing.
If we don't fix things now, we may as well be fighting over the best seats on a sinking ship.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
If customers ultimately pay the costs for electric power, there really isn't any greater financial risk to some power companies with either coal-fired power or truly clean power.
I just read that the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will allow Sierra Pacific to pass expenses onto customers of a carbon tax, the inflation (etc.) costs of coal, and the costs of building a carbon sequestration facility (if they ever build it). We already know that the coal industry won't have to pay for the health care of people their coal-fired power plants make sick. So, its no wonder Sierra Pacific thinks coal is a good idea. They're not going to get stuck paying for any of the negatives. They don't have to pay the real-world costs. However (and this a very important however), the same is also true about clean, sustainable power generation.
So... why should Sierra Pacific care? If the customers ultimately pay, no matter how the power is generated; then why not just do the right thing? Sierra Pacific has no competition in Las Vegas and Reno. The State guarantees they'll make a profit on the electricity they sell. So, why does it matter?
A utility should want cost stability. In fact, that's been the power companies' argument. They want to “diversify” their portfolio. So, why don't they want to “diversify” into a power generation method that has only fixed costs. Now that's cost stability.
Hey, those Sierra Pacific executives have to breath the air too. They have to deal with the devastation of global warming too. What is the only real reason they might even consider coal-fired power? Maybe...money... Maybe this whole coal-fired power thing isn't about being prudent at all. Maybe this is about maximizing short-term profits.
We've seen this before. Those who can manipulate the supply, can manipulate the price – can get filthy rich (at the expense of their customers). We've seen this with natural gas. We've seen this with gasoline... Fossil fuels are prone to price manipulation.
Doesn't anyone remember the California power shortages in 2000? There was no real shortage of fuel. The generation facilities have been adequate since then. And alternative power played essentially no role in the shortages.
The way I remember 2000 is that the rolling blackouts were contrived. The power companies shut down their generators at critical times. They wanted to limit supplies, and therefore artificially raise prices. It might have worked if their business partners, Enron, hadn't worked the scheme against them. Enron pricing practically ran Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific out of business. But, Enron couldn't have created the shortages on their own.
I've heard rumors that Nevada Power stopped stocking needed spare parts before 2000. Hey, maybe they just didn't have the money to keep their plants running reliably. But, then again, they were partners with Pacific Gas and Electric at the Mojave coal plant near Laughlin. That's right; Nevada Power and PG&E were business partners in a power plant that supplied power to California during the power shortages. Did Sierra Pacific know about the coming shortages – and participate? I would suspect so. Would they try it again? I would suspect so.
It just may be that the reason Sierra Pacific wants these coal-fired power plants so bad is because they intend to manipulate the market. If the price of coal rises, the price of power will have to rise also. The real question is; how much? As Greg Palast says; “In confusion is profit.”
The Nevada PUC was recently here in Ely to present their side of the Sierra Pacific coal-fired power plant story. It became quite obvious right away whose side the PUC is on. Their presentation may has well have been written by Sierra Pacific. For example; they stated that windmills kill birds (a dubious claim), while they never even mentioned any health effects of coal-fired pollution to humans (a huge oversight). Maybe some in the commission are looking forward to the revolving door of well paid jobs with Sierra Pacific soon? My point is; don't expect the Public Utilities Commission to protect the public any more. I doubt there is any real regulation of power prices in Nevada.
So, if the PUC won't protect us from unreasonable price hikes; what's to keep Sierra Pacific from raising prices? Simple; they can't raise prices if they don't have an excuse. They don't have an excuse if their costs don't change... Everyone knows the price of sunlight doesn't change. It will always be free.
Why would Sierra Pacific want to generate power so dirty we wouldn't want to buy it? The day is at hand when the well-off can just generate their own clean power. Why would the power companies want to push them away? And how are the power companies going to make up for the lost customers? Their only option is to raise prices on the only customers they'll have left; the poor.
This is crazy to me. Coal-fired power is simply a bad long-term investment. Everyone in the industry knows that those coal industry projections of supply are inflated. The National Academy of Sciences has told us so. Is it that Sierra Pacific management doesn't care about the future? Hey, by the time the company goes broke for relying on antiquated technology, they'll be retired. But they'll make a mint until then...
This is not a long-term strategy. Coal-fired power is a get rich quick scheme, with no regard for the future.
Now for some good news: The third Intermountain Power Project unit near Delta, Utah has been put on hold at least through the coming decade.