Tuesday, May 31, 2005

California and Energy - a volatile mix

You would think that after the 'deregulation' fiasco 10 years ago that the public would tell the politicians to keep their hands off, but this is California where it is impossible to hold anyone accountable. After a 30 year legacy of the Energy Commission stopping construction of any proposed power plants, it isn't hard to figure that maybe we ought to get some built. Unfortunately, the investor-owned utilities are out of the generation business and don't really want to get back in. They get guaranteed returns on delivering power and pass through to the customers whatever costs the California Independent System operator manages to procure. The ISO, by the way, is a completely unaccountable public entity which sets its own agenda. Notice that in this whole pack of organizations, there is not one of them with any reason to care what their customers might think.
As a result, we are now on the fast track to a real customer pleasing program called Critical Peak Pricing, the sole purpose of which is to charge prices at times when power is short that are so high that customers will stop using electricity. This solves all problems - utilities make money,nobody has to worry about building new power plants and once again politicians have solved a problem. Everybody that matters is happy. It is just the customers who are inconvenienced.

There is another approach. Which is to build - or contract- for sufficient powet to supply the requirements of your customers.
California cities to dedicate Magnolia plant
The mayors and utility officials for six Southern California cities (Anaheim, Burbank, Cerritos, Colton, Glendale and Pasadena) participating in the 310-MW Magnolia Power Project will gather in Burbank on June 2 for the dedication ceremony.

The dedication will celebrate the largest municipal power plant built since the energy crisis of 2000-2001, project organizers said. The baseload plant will be available immediately to meet the customer needs of the participating cities.

The six cities have joined together under the Southern California Public Power Authority to secure lower cost energy supplies by building and operating their own power plant, which replaces a 1941 Burbank Water & Power plant. The new combined-cycle, natural gas-fueled plant is twice as efficient and 90 percent cleaner than the older units it replaces, the cities said. Air emissions will be controlled for nitrogen oxides and other gases with the use of the best available control equipment.

Burbank is the project manager and operator for Magnolia. Each of the six cities will schedule their own power output with Burbank for each hour of every day. This effectively makes the one large plant serve as six individual smaller units, providing scheduling flexibility and control for each city, project organizers said.

Municipally-owned utilities do just that and manage to sell electricity at lower prices than the investor-owneds most of the time. If customers were given the choice, what would they pick. Right now, the Cities of Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento are seeking annexation by a neighboring public power utility. They are looking for a different customer service philosophy from a community-owned organization.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Asbestos PR War Begins

County officials begin PR campaing to keep ahead of the EPA scaremongering. Ups the regulation on construction activity and hires a PR flack. EPA cannot establish health standards but the county is now liable for any events and must scamble for cover to deal with any real or imagined health impacts. Hey, we are the EPA and our job is to scare citizens and push the blame on anybody else.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Asbestos and Politics

Politics, asbestos mix in foothills
A long-divisive debate about growth spills over into the region's asbestos controversy.

An article in the Sacramento Bee link here describes how California politicians from the region see the asbestos issue. Sacramento's Senator Ortiz is concerned about potential liability should the levels of asbestos produce health affects. Senator Cox is concerned that without a clear determination of the critical level of asbestos in the air, the issue will be seized by nogrowthers who have been unable to throw enough monkey wrenches into the political machinery to stop modest development.
Ortiz sees soccer moms and Cox sees nogrowthers.

Bill Frist, Minority Leader

Six Renegade Rinos handed majority power to Harry Reid with a promise from Democrats to use the filibuster only for extraordinary circumstances with no definition of extrordinary. The appeasers refuse to stand with the Republican Party, the President and the party base which has up to now supported them in spite of their unreliability. Now we know who is who. Now we know that we cannot support Republican fundraising where the candidates are not defined. No money for renegades!
Hall of Shame members as identified here are McCain, De Wine, Snowe, Warner and Collins with Chaffee not present. Graham too.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Asbestos Shakedown Begins

Following up my earlier post. An article in the local newspaper (no link) says that one of the three community service district baseball fields will be closed due to asbestos contamination. The other two have not been decided yet. Imagine the message to little league parents.
And where is the process and criteria for the decision revealed?

Pepsico- The Third Finger

SactoDan posts a good set of links for the Pepsico CFO commencement speech at Columbia. She says the US is like the third finger. She can't figure out why anyone is upset. She probably idealizes Pauline Kael.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Encouraging Words

Found on Willisms this morning some encouraging words about the war on terrorism.

"The Autumn Of The Autocrats," by Fouad Ajami, in Foreign Affairs:

The entrenched systems of control in the Arab world are beginning to give way. It is a terrible storm, but the perfect antidote to a foul sky. The old Arab edifice of power, it is true, has had a way of surviving many storms. It has outwitted and outlived many predictions of its imminent demise.
But suddenly it seems like the autumn of the dictators. Something different has been injected into this fight. The United States -- a great foreign power that once upheld the Arab autocrats, fearing what mass politics would bring -- now braves the storm. It has signaled its willingness to gamble on the young, the new, and the unknown. Autocracy was once deemed tolerable, but terrorists, nurtured in the shadow of such rule, attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. Now the Arabs, grasping for a new world, and the Americans, who have helped usher in this unprecedented moment, together ride this storm wave of freedom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Confirmation Statistics

Liam requested a source for statistics on judicial appointments.
This seems to be a very comprehensive post on that topic. It is a shame that these appointments have become so politicized recently.

And you thought we couldn't tell!

Prestopundit post about how to identify a Democrat.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Who are the victims?

Hugh Hewitt is asking for help in finding the names of the victims of the Newsweak riots. Nobody has the answer. And here comes my cynical side again starting to wonder. Who counted the bodies? Where are they? What is the source of the information? Why do we accept this report as true?
Granted Afghanistan's police and military are not up to western standards and perhaps family members take the bodies away without public help, but what are the details? Were the victims part of the crowd or were they attacked. What was the crowd doing? Is there verification from the government?

Why am I so suspicious? Afterall, it was covered by MSM.

Chrenkoff on Lucas

Chrenkoff takes time off from finding good news in Afghanistan and Iraq and looks at popular culture. George Lucas equates the US to the Evil Empire. Chrenkoff begs to differ. He lived under the real evil empire.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Restoration not destruction

Charles Krauthammer explains what Republicans are trying to do in the Senate.


Little Green Footballs posts about the Afghan riots on the erroneous report in Newsweak that the Koran was flushed at Guantanamo. After learning that their source was bogus, Newsweak said that they were sorry but they followed appropriate standards. Which tells us that one ananymous second hand source is all that is required to undermine our country and troops.
Consequences here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What do I fear most? Asbestos or the EPA.

My idyllic new community (recently driving a backwoods county to #4 in income out of California’s 50-some counties) has asbestos. Naturally-occurring asbestos infests local veins of serpentine rock formation which occur all over the county (and 40 other California counties). The EPA has been blanketing us with information about the high level readings of their particle measurements in the community. When pressed for advice or interpretation of these measurements, however, their resolve falters. “We don’t really know”, they say. “Ask your county government. “

They relate the terrible fate of Libby, Montana where the whole community was engaged in the mining of vermiculite, which is contaminated with asbestos and apparently everyone, is dying.

But that isn’t very helpful. We are not, thank you very much, blue collar workers here tilling the soil and crushing the rocks. Most of us spend the day in Sacramento breathing the uncontaminated, filtered air where we struggle to keep up with the mortgage and taxes on our homestead. And our kids spend the day in lovely new schools where they are unlikely to actually encounter dirt, everything being paved with the exception of the obligatory patches of landscaping. So what are we supposed to do?

Well, the EPA is the government and so, of course, they are here to help. The question here is who is it that they want to help. They tell us that the problem here is (drum roll, please) developers Those nasty folk actually stir up the rock when they carve out homesites and that darn dust just hangs around. They tell us that the test show a level 10 times normal (whatever that is) but they don't tell us what is the level where lung damage occurrs. And, of course, the data points are selective. The high school playing fields (which had been determined to be safe after $1m in mitigation) and the community playing fields as well.

If I were a cynical sort, I would say that they are running a protection scam, but I suspect that it is no-growthers trying to scare off buyers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Bullshit Factor

Liam wonders how he has become so jaded that he can't muster the energy to even go after the facts anymore. Given the energy he applies to posts on his blog it is a good question. As I began thinking about Liam’s question, it became clear to me that I share his problem. We don’t agree on politics which is surprising given his obviously high intelligence but that is another issue for another day. I, too, feel jaded and overwhelmed when it comes to sorting out fact from assertion.
I blame it on the media. I can remember when you subscribed to a newspaper for information. They used to collect facts and then organize them to provide background for the reader. I remember learning the five W’s (who, what, where, why, when) in journalism class (high school no less) and organizing the most important items at the top of the article. I don’t know what they are teaching anymore but what I learned doesn’t seem to be important when you attempt to learn about issues from the news and find assertions and bald claims but few facts (and these ‘facts’ are often incorrect (or misrepresented) when you go to the sources. Call it bullshiting.

DesignObserver courtesy of 2Blowhards raises the question of bullshit as a component of design. Do people buy good design or good bullshit? Is is more productive to be a good designer or a good bullshitter? Maybe the same thing goes for journalizm. Which gets you farther, good reporting or bullshitting?
And where have out bullshit detectors gone?

Senate Rant

I keep waiting – and waiting – and waiting.. for resolution on the judicial appointments front. Perhaps all this strategery is necessary for the Senate process but I am getting pretty cynical I have some problems with Bush (principally in the way he attempts to co-opt Democrat programs by drowning them in money (Education, Medicare drugs come to mind) but the man has principle and resolve and I can, at least, manage to believe that he feels that he must move in those areas to keep his entire agenda moving.

The Senate Republicans are a completely different kettle of fish. They are unmoved by principle (other than collegiality), the Republican Party Platform, their president and unwilling to accept leadership. Daily I read about Republican senators who rationalize away from doing the deed and stopping the judicial filibusters. If I could discern any principle in their arguments, I might be able to respect them as mavericks but there isn’t any. They are wimps, plain and simple. They have always managed their political careers by going along and they don’t know anything different to do. (I exclude the egomaniacal McCain. He is in a class by himself and deserves a special place in Hell.)

It isn’t surprising that Senators make such lousy Presidential candidates. They don’t have an agenda. They don’t get critical questions. They aren’t held accountable. And they think they matter. It’s time for a day of reckoning for those that refuse to support the President here.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Social Security Reform Sense

It's reform Thursday again and Willisms has a great post on the returns for the funds available to Federal Employees. What's not to like? Find it here.

Prestopundit posts on the dishonest dialogue from the opposition.

He's Back

Prestopundit has long been a daily read for me cutting through the economic and philosophical illiteracy of MSM and many bloggers. Many a time, he has saved me from treacherous strolls down the primrose path to crazy thinking. Lately, my daily visits have been frustrated by a stagnant message. Today, however, a new post and link.
A software glitch is the reason but those are behind us and I can again anticipate daily doses of clear thinking. If you haven't been a daily reader, start immediately.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My Inner European revealed

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.

You show the world what culture really is.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


The dreaded Black Plague of the middle ages is insignificant compared to a more recent human-created menace. Democide has been ignored by historians but its damage is profound. Courtesy of Catallarachy.

Belated May Day Wishes

May Day nostalgia from Catallarchy.