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These thoughts from The Zephyr’s Colorado Plateau Bureau Chief, Doug Meyer…

When it came to “saving the planet,” I always expected the message to come via a Presidential address to the nation—you know, something like: “My fellow Americans, now is the time for each household to ask what sacrifices we might be willing to endure for the good of our country, and indeed Planet Earth,” or words to that effect. But it didn’t happen; when The O should have been warning us that consumption on this gargantuan scale could not continue forever, when did he ever say we needed to reduce the juice? Instead, during the campaign, he implied the hard work would be done for us, through the magic of efficiency.

Now we see what that really means. Waxman-Markey (the cap-and-trade bill) contains language designed to achieve “peak demand reduction”. Automatically. No questions asked. In case you think this was the Democrats’ idea, check out this excerpt from a New York Times article a year ago that described the ideas of Jim Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy:

“Under Save-a-Watt, Duke would, for example, distribute ‘smart’ meters that automatically turn off customers’ appliances during periods of peak power use. For its first experiment, Duke plans to cut the consumption of its customers in the Carolinas by 1,800 megawatts, which is equal to the output of two new coal-fired plants. The regulator would then let Duke charge higher rates for the electricity its customers do use to pay for all the efficiency technology. Save-a-Watt thus turns the power business on its head: rather than charge customers more to build plants, Duke will effectively charge them not to do so.”

Isn’t that neat? Now, last I checked, most of the red states don’t even believe in global warming. So I’ve got some questions I hope the Zephyr readers can enlighten me on: How many folks do you think are going to be aware of this as the bill heads to the Senate in the fall? Will we all be “encouraged” to buy new appliances that work with the “smart” meters? Will Plasma TV’s be included? (If yes, I’m starting to like this.) IF the Republicans really wanted to stop this bill, why didn’t they play this up? Will this be an effective response to global warming? And is this a good way for democracy to undertake cultural change?

What do YOU think?

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6 Responses

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  1. Sarah said

    Ok let me get this straight. Citizens automatically get their appliances turned off during peak hours? That’s a little too much government control for my taste. If we live in a country where people have to be babied like that in order to use less energy- that is really pathetic, but maybe we are at that point. From all that I read about it- it seems like a financial setback for average Americans who are already floundering, it’s poorly written, and when it comes down to it- this bill is about money, not the environment. As usual. What more do you expect from Washington? A green government? Don’t hold your breath.

  2. I don’t know that this kind of “covert” action will work . . . if people aren’t aware there is bound to be a huge backlash when they do become aware.

    Obvioulsy, this would entail no real behavioral change on the part of individuals, as it is not backed by any change in belief.

    Granted, we may be far away from a true change in behavior, as those who deny climate change are still allowed to say so with little, if any, social repercussions (simply amazing). Governor Palin, for example, in her recent resignation speech talked about “real” climate change, refering to a change in political climate. How is this kind of ludicrous statement allowed to go unchecked?

    Let’s raise some voices and some criticisms, change some hearts, rather than change energy meters.

    In the Pines

  3. Mark said

    It sounds like a curious way of using technology to change people’s behavior. I am all for new regulatory and government policy to address our profligate energy use, but I am not sure that cap and trade is the best approach. Does it really force us to pay for the full impact of energy production and use? Probably not, but it is less disruptive to the status quo and makes us feel like the government is doing something, even if that something is a large transfer of wealth to CO2 generators. A carbon tax would more directly impact energy use and allow market forces to shape energy use. But is the USA public willing to pay the full cost of energy use? Not yet, we have been happily voting for leaders who do not want to force us to face the real impacts of our energy usage.

    Having the power company turn off our plasma TV’s might be a good thing both from environmental impact and social interaction viewpoints, but I think people will fuss like a two-year that it is unfair. We have been sold the idea that technology advances will solve all our problems. We just need to switch to renewable energy and everything will be fine! Just support the correct political party and you can go back to watching Survivor and not worry.

    I did some quick calculations the other day with some numbers I got off the Web, so I can’t say the results reflect the best available renewable energy generation systems. With that disclaimer, if the sun is shining it requires 10 ft by 10 ft surface area of solar panels to power a 50 in2 plasma TV. Then after the sun goes down and if the wind is blowing at 20 mph you would need five home wind power generators to keep that big screen TV running so you don’t miss tonight’s episode of American Idol.

  4. sarah said

    I think individual liberties are more at risk with this bill than anything. A company outside the US is going to gauge how long MY showers are everyday? I’d pass on this if I had a choice. Really. I guess America wanted a bigger government…and that’s what they are getting. This may SEEM like a good thing…conserving energy…fine. But the more you let the government control your daily life the more they feel they can control and take away from you as a person and a citizen. Slippery slope. I’d rather be dead than red. Liberty justice freedom dissent! Like pops used to say.

  5. Doug Meyer said

    Agreed with all of the above…and the utilities can’t wait to limit our thermostat settings. This is apparently already happening for about 30,000 people in Kansas City, according to this article:

    Progressives will say it’s such a minor adjustment for a small part of the day, but remember the slow loss of privacy as we all started using credit and debit cards? Imagine those millions unable to bump that thermostat one more degree on a hot evening in September. And all this will do is level off total consumption; global warming is almost an afterthought.

    So we lose our freedom and are no closer to addressing climate change meaningfully. In the end, where does the blame really lie?

  6. Doug Meyer said

    Actually, I should have said peak demand reduction only flattens consumption during peak hours and will push some demand off-peak, exactly what the utilities want. They’ll be able to produce and sell MORE megawatt-hours off-peak using their existing megawatt capacity. Why don’t the professional enviros see that they’ve been duped by capitalism into calling for increased efficiency?

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