InstaPower

Where even to begin?

Instapundit linked here, a very big deal indeed. He’s long been in my opml, but I’ve neglected to add him to the blogroll. That injustice has been corrected. I’ll email him and see if he’ll return the favor.

Also must give a shout out to Jay Solo, who made it possible by bringing my electricity post to Glenn’s attention. Thanks Jay!!!!!

Ok, so let me see if I can address a few of the issues brought up by commenters, without dealing with some of the more snide remarks and loaded comments that simply can’t be dealt with politely.

Enron:
A number of you have brough up Enron, as if the accounting scandals that happened there somehow discredit the entire notion of energy deregulation. That’s simply not teh case. What Enron management did was to commit fraud, and it was a fraud that could have occurred at any one of a number of companies in any one of a number of industries. Congress was correct to address the issue as one of corporate governance and creative interpretations of accounting standards. Not one of energy deregulation.

Telephone Poles:
It’s true that telephone poles are not always owned by the utilities, are already federally regulated, and that there may be problems having the poles owned by municipalities. All points are well taken, but I still think that there is an interest in having the poles owned by someone other than the company that hangs the wires on them. For the record, I have NOT suggested a free-for-all among people putting up random telephone poles, as some have suggested.

History:
Some have pointed out that regulation came after an early chaos among unregulated utilities. That’s true. Students of this sort of thing will also remember the battle between Edison and Westinghouse over DC vs. AC current. It’s also true that cable companies engineered their own monopolies, agreeing not to tread on eachother’s turf and asking municipalities to grant them monopolies for cable service. That didn’t help the consumer or the industry either. But today, in Waltham where I live, I have my choice of two cable companies, three phone companies, and at least three high-speed Internet providers. Some of these actually do come through different sets of wires. And my rates are reasonable as a result.

Generation, Routing and Metering:
Some people got quite testy at my notion that power isn’t currently routed. And I basically stick by that. It isn’t. The lake analogy I used is one that is widely circulated in the electricity industry itself, and it’s apt. After the blackout of 1965, the national grid was built in order to attempt to provide redundancy to major urban areas, bringing power to cities whose own supply may have temporarily gone down. As we saw on Thursday, exactly the opposite occurred. Instead of acting as a backup, it acted as a suck that took down several cities at the same time. My Internet analogy is apt. I understand that power cannot be precisely packetized in the same manner that electronic information is, but the comment made by one reader that even a rudimentary identification of power sources and destinations will go a long way towards fixing the current problems in electricity routing (or lack thereof).

Some people have pointed out that time of day metering currently exists in some areas, particularly for business customers. Others have implied that customers wouldn’t want to save money by timing their use of electricity. That is hogwash. As I’ve already pointed out, peak and off-peak billing is common across other industries as an accepted practice, and would do a lot to alleviate the strains on the electrical grid currently being experienced. Others have stated that it’s scientific fact that companies (and I suppose individuals) cannot generate their own power as cheaply as the power companies. This is factually incorrect, and the rise of companies such as Microturbine and the attempts to launch products such as the home fuel cell by GE attest to this.

I would suggest that you, my dear readers, discount the some of the rantings of the cranky cranks who appear to be from the utility industry, and still haven’t learned the first thing about customer service or competitive offerings that the happenings of teh past decade should well have taught them already.

I’m going to try and dig up the landscape analysis that we completed in the summer of 2000 for you to read. It’s well referenced, and will answer many of the detail questions that some of you may have. Until then, sit tight.

UPDATE: Got the landscape here. Read it and weep.

 
 

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