from September 2011, Economics
For the next 60 days the government is accepting public comments on the draft EIR/EIS document. Make your voice heard. We're certain many outsider environmentalists (New Hamshire, Southern California and the like) are making their opinions known — for Dam Removal. Let's give them some inside the Basin feedback — what we want to happen to dams that impact us directly.
All that is required is your email address, subject and comment. We suggest you give your city and state as well so the government is aware of comments made inside the Basin versus those outside.
It seems odd that a company whose main business is to create and sell electricity would be FOR the removal of dams which provide clean, sustainable hydroelectric power. But that is exactly what we are faced with: Pacific Power is for tearing out dams along the Klamath River. Why? Well here are three simple reasons (none of them good for us):
- The 25% Mandate. By 2025 all energy companies in Oregon are mandated by the State to have 25% of their power come from "Renewable Energy". Seems somewhat silly that Hydro is left off the list they consider "Renewable". There is a sliding scale so by 2015 its 15%, by 2020 its 20% and by 2025 its 25%. As a business there are two ways to get your energy portfolio to comply. First you can increase the amount of solar and wind power in your portfolio. Pacific Power is doing just that with rebates and paying up to 5x the amount for solar power — to encourage more on their grid. Second you can lessen the amount of power you generate from traditional resources. No matter how you get to the correct percentage both strategies are being pursued. And make no mistake, both strategies also mean higher electrical costs going forward.
- Political Correctness. If there was one thing I could remove from the American thought process it would be political correctness. This is a PR move by Pacific Power to look like they care and are concerned about the Tribes, the Farmers, the Fish, the Antelope, the rocks, the trees and the stars. It is pure, unadulterated B.S. See reason number one for the main driver, but don't underestimate the executive suite where there is little fortitude to stand up against the Tribes, the FIsh and the environmental wackos. Producing less power isn't beneficial for all, and yet cowtowing to these groups keep them out of the crosshairs of frivolous lawsuits.
- It Will Cost Less. This one I can kind of get my head around. Pacific Power says it will cost less to remove dams than it would be to relicense them. But the only reason that is true is because:
- Tax payers will be required to fund much of the cost of dam removal. Matter of fact, it's already happening with a special "fee" on the end of your bill each month. Whether you want it or not, Pacific Power is already taxing you to remove dams. Thanks PUC for looking out for us!
- The relicensing requirements are extreme and made that way to be cost prohibitive. The rules for relicensing are made to encourage dam removal, not renovation and safety.
Pacific Power really doesn't care if they produce 10,000 Mega Watts or 10. All they care about is getting enough money through the Public Utility Commission to stay in business. Fewer dams mean few employees which mean fewer headaches. No problem. As long as the executives get's their money, all is well — for them.
This is not capitalism. There is no incentive to seeking real energy solutions that work. There are no market forces in place that make Pacific Power become better and better at what they provide or go out of business. Pacific Power gets a D-. And I'm in a good mood today.
That's what has me puzzled about Pacific Power, like any other business, needs to generate more revenue than incurred expenses to survive. It is in the business of making electricity and then selling that at a profit (selling electricity for MORE than it costs to produce). And yet if you put in a solar power array, Pacific Power is willing to pay you 4-5x the going rate to buy that electricity. What? Yeah, that's what I think. Who in their right mind would pay 5x the going rate to buy something that they make below the market rate.
Is electricity generated by solar panels more powerful than electricity generated by coal or hyrdo? Of course not. Matter of fact solar is far less efficient than either of those by a magnitude. Yet Pacific Power is paying solar "farms" 4-5x the going rate. Not only why, but how do they do that and stay in business?