Friday, February 16, 2007


Utility Profits Can Save the Planet

The Washington Post’s Steve Mufson gives California a lot of fawning coverage as he heralds their energy efficiency:

Since 1974, California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant, while energy use per person for the United States overall has jumped 50 percent. In Energy Conservation, Calif. Sees Light

Noting that their warm weather helps keep energy use down, he praises their declining contribution to Global Warming…

“California has managed to cut its contributions to global warming, too. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita in California have fallen by 30 percent since 1975, while U.S. per capita carbon dioxide emissions have remained essentially level.”

…but I can’t help wondering: if they contributed more to Global Warming, wouldn’t that further decrease our overall need for energy and thus allow others the same natural advantages that California enjoys?

Moving on, I particularly enjoyed this howler:

Paragraph 4: “The state has been able to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, keep utility companies happy and maintain economic growth.”

Many Paragraphs later: “But much of the motivation remains economic. The state's disastrous experiment in electricity deregulation -- deregulating supplies while capping retail prices -- led to a supply crisis and rolling blackouts in 2001. Soon, prices rose; PG&E sought bankruptcy protection.”

But still, the whole supply-and-demand thing has apparently been a big part of California’s success:

“The reason for California's success is no secret: Electricity there is expensive, so people use less of it.”

…sounds like classic Adam Smith economics. Unfortunately, this lesson has absolutely NO relevance to us in Maryland because, as we learned over the past year, more expensive electricity here is an absolute evil. That was why we needed Martin O'Malley and the Democrats to take charge of the situation….

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