Your electric bills are going up

Make all the changes you want to cut back on electricity usage, but your electric bill is going up. Photo: Electricity

YAKIMA, Wash., March 3rd, 2013 – Back in the middle of February I wrote an article on the electrical power companies being out of control.  Wow, I must have hit a nerve because some gentleman decided to take me to task for what he called, “a misguided and baseless attempt to link a utility rate increase request to wind power.” Simply not true.  I’m all for wind power.

Wind power and solar power are the power sources of the future and I support that.  Like the ushering in of the computer age, the ushering in of wind and solar power is a whole new industry that will revolutionize our lives.  

Mr. Goggin, manager of the transmission policy at the American Wind Energy Association, I live in the Northwest and don’t really care what the wind industry has done for the Mid-West.   This curmudgeon wants to know what wind power will do for the Northwest, even if it costs a bit more. 

If phrasing in wind power means a better Northwest and a greener world, I believe most of us up here in the Northwest would be supportive.  Wind power is the future, a greener future.

Oh, Mr. Goggin, since you choose to use Synapse Energy Economics as a resource for your rebuttal, I decided to find out if they were just another lobbying group or an organization intending to help understand the needs of our power industry. 

The Synapse Energy Economics organization provides research, reports and testimonies on power issues for the consumer, energy organizations and political commissions.  In reading one of their reports I came across this statement,

“The lack of political will is made worse by intense lobbying from the coal, nuclear, natural gas and utility sectors, who feel threatened by the fundamental shift in investment patterns required for true sustainability.”

In other words, our utility sector, which is you Mr. Goggin, is using part of the inflationary rates found in our Northwest rates to pay for lobbying, which, in turn, has neutralized our political will and left the consumer at the mercy of the power industry. 

To this curmudgeon, it really does sound like the power industry is out of control.

It seems that the wind power industry’s issue is not with this writer, but with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  This administration is tasked with the selling of electricity for all the federal hydroelectric projects in the Northwest and is part of the Department of Energy (DOE).

A recent article in the local newspaper, a subsidiary of the Seattle Times, reported that the vast wind farms in our area had to be shut down from time to time because the Bonneville Power Administration didn’t have the capacity to handle all the increased available electric power. 

The BPA although a part of the DOE, it’s self-sustaining and sells its electricity from 31 dams on the Columbia River to users in the region.  Actually, it’s reported that only about 35% of its electricity is needed locally and the rest is sold to other parts of the nation, mainly southern California.

Now we have the answer as to what is really going on in the Northwest.  What would motivate the BPA to incorporate wind power electricity into their grid system when they can’t sell all of what they produce with 31 hydroelectric dams? 

So if BPA is the sole supplier of wholesale electricity, and they can only sell 35% of what it’s creating, why is the cost to the Northwest consumer going up?  Two reasons, actually.

Reason one is the federal mandate to incorporate certain amounts of wind and solar power, thus raising our rates.  The second reason is investor returns and wages. 

It seems that those who work in an industry that has a precious resource, in this case hydroelectric power, can dictate prices that keep their wages high.  As for investor returns, well, suffice it to say Mid-American Energy Holding, which owns Pacific Power, is controlled by Berkshire Hathaway, in other words, is owned by Warren Buffett.  Mr. Buffett is a person who knows how to make a profit, a big profit.

Go ahead, turn-down your thermostat, turn off unused lights, buy energy efficient light bulbs, and invest in energy compliant appliances—like it, or not, your electric bill is going up. 


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Larry Momo

Larry is an older folk who refuses to retire and won’t quit trying to contribute. His family has labeled him a curmudgeon but, hey, everyone knows that only young people are hopeful. Like most older folk, Larry believes that nothing much will change: petrol companies will still make billions; AT&T will continue to take over the World; Wal-Mart will still sell cheap plastic products for a bundle;   And, 56 million of us older folk will go to sleep every night secure in the fact that Congress will try to figure out how to cut more money out of the Social Security fund to spend on pork belly projects.  Maybe they could build a bridge to who knows where?  Now that I’ve enlightened you a bit about myself, enjoy Curmudgeon Corner--God knows, I love writing it.

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