Friday, January 28, 2011

Benefits of Owning Nada in California

No need to go into the ever growing number of ever narrower hoops through which business owners must jump to stay in operation out here. They are leaving the state in record numbers. I suspect Tennessee, Texas and the South will benefit if they refrain from following the misguided left coast policies.

Here's the latest on power companies. It is a pure case of damned if you do and damned if you don't. Not sure how it ought to be done, but when companies can shift back and forth from rules of market and nature to rules of bureaucracy, monopoly and government mandate as it suits them, there is bound to be a peculiar dynamic.

OK. Due to the incessant brainwashing that "we must conserve energy. Energy use is bad and causes climate change here and on Venus and Mars, and Saturn", and the fact that the place is not growing (as far as new building and such goes), people conserved, put up solar panels and used less electric power.

In order to penalize peak hour usage they installed smart meters which automatically charge you more per unit if, according to some arbitrary measure (unknown to homeowners), you use power during a peak period of the day. It matters not if you use no power any other time. You pay whatever rate per unit the smart meter decides it wants to charge at that given time. It may be triple the base rate.

Now, they have already been charging on a graduated, and hard to decipher scale. This is based on volume of power used in a month. If you run almost nothing, you get the cheap per unit rate. Then it jumps up a notch if you use above that mark--an extremely unrealistically low mark. That means you pay the higher rate for all the power you used, Of course the smart meter might decide the little bit you used last tuesday evening ought to be billed at a higher rate.

OK, you say, so this is all good for the environment and people should conserve.

Aha! You haven't heard the rest of the story.

Because people used less power, which left the system with unused surplus of capacity, they want to raise the rates across the board. You see, they didn't get the revenue they would have received had people not conserved, gone to solar, etc. as they were encouraged and begged to do. Therefore they need a rate increase to fund the unneeded additional infrastructure that SDGE wants to build, and get paid to maintain. The stuff that goes through high risk fire districts, Indian burial grounds and down to Mexico.

But wait! There's more. Due to the uncommonly poor market the last couple of years the pension fund investments have lagged behind expectations, so they want to tack on a surcharge of 7% or so (depending which power company in Ca--they're all trying this) to pay the pensions so the company won't have to sweat it themselves. Hey, it's not our fault, they reason, it was a down market.

On one hand they want to reap the benefits of the profits which are indicative of a free market, on the other they want mandated rate boosts and construction projects requiring eminent domain land confiscation which are the stuff of government bureaucracy. Whether it makes sense to the state or region, or not.

OK, so they'll charge you an arm and a leg for using electricity, and take either your first born child or your left nut if you don't use much electricity. Arnold's utility commission rubber stamped the penalties for usage in the name of being green. And no doubt, unless Brown is more of a man than I think, they'll rubber stamp further penalties in the name of The Future of California.

They sometimes use that phrase, "The Future of California" when no statement of fact or reason could possibly support what they want to do.

I'm told that Brown's previous run as governor resulted in a freeze on highway construction, so there are too few roads to get anywhere fast in this state. It is kind of bizarre. I-5. That is about it north and south, for the most part in the way of big highways. The Fifteen runs a little way and it is mostly nuts as well. Overloaded.

I circumvented a lot of it (I-5) on my way down from Seattle, but believe me, it was because I was willing to spend extra hours on lonely roads going around in circles. It was worth it. "The Five" is populated by drivers who do not value their life or yours, and who have no idea what lane usage is about. It is an improvement over some Miami roads---at least very few drivers here think the shoulder is actually a passing lane. In Miami the shoulder often gets as backed up as the rest. Here they have their own special tricks.

It is a pain, that road. Pretty sure Brown thinks we'll all learn to like riding bikes and that somehow electric cars will go far enough and the power for them will right there at your smart wall socket. And of course everyone can pay 50 grand or so for a new car that goes 100 miles on a charge.

I'm hoping Brown will decide he has no one to please, will fire Ahnold's utility commission and go to work on some of this utility and union corruption. It could happen. He's recalled half the state paid cell phones and cars. I have to say, I do like that. They give elected representatives and all kinds of crazy people state cars.

A symbolic gesture but anything that begins to wet down the arrogance of government employees is needed at this point. The place is teetering on bankruptcy.

If you read this far, bravo for you. I'll get to the punch line.

The person being rewarded in all this is me. If I owned property, had a utility bill, or made enough money to be a business on the radar, I'd be screwed. As it is, I can leave whenever I want. I use as little power as I can because I pay a set rate per month to the landlord. Should that go up too much, I guess I'd have to run. I hope it won't happen. I do all I can to make their lives easier in regard to having a tenant--paint the porch, fix the leak, use water sparingly, etc.

With sunrise powerlink likely to come through here, property is very hard to sell, especially because the market is already not so good.

The people least punished are illegals, and the few like me---who have a unique, cheap living situation, no kids to care for, no business, no employees, no real estate, no debt. Lawyers do well here, but that's another story.

In general the sort of people who make a community stable and help it thrive are not treated well. The public employees and their unions think that is all just fine, but they are now crying the blues because the rest of the people can't support them in the manner to which they've become accustomed. They didn't mind making more than the average private sector employee, and getting a pension which few private taxpayers ever receive. They didn't mind making everyone else suffer. Now they are outraged. They work for the government therefore they are better than those who do not.

Businesses are fleeing. There aren't enough people to squeeze to pay for all the public employees and agencies. Or so it appears. City after city is far in debt. But, like the rest of the country, they act like it happened through no fault of their own. It's all due to "the economy" and because taxes aren't high enough.

Maybe I'm smarter than I thought. I can only sympathize with the good stable people who built this place and who built the businesses here. I've done none of that so I do not have their problems. They get the whipping, while my main worry is the price of fuel.

Such a nice place, really. I guess people must collectively feel guilty or simply go insane in idyllic settings. There is no reason to make a place like this that difficult for human endeavor.

Maybe instead of the age of Aquarius, we are entering the age of misanthropy. An odd form of cannibalism really.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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