California Capsule: Conserve Electricity? Who, Me? : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

California Capsule: Conserve Electricity? Who, Me?

LCG, May 29, 2001—California Gov. Gray Davis on February 1 ordered retail businesses to cut their outdoor lighting during off hours, and even provided for $1,000 fines to be levied against those who ignored the ukase, but so far the order seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday that it appears there is widespread disregard or ignorance of the plan. The paper talked to Sheryl Tankersley of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and she said she believed the program is working, even though she had no facts and figures to support her conclusion.

The Times had driven down Brand Boulevard in Glendale, the city's auto row, at midnight and found the lights burning brightly at Glendale Dodge, Guy Schmidt Cadillac and other dealerships. Myron Grombacher, general manager of the Dodge dealership said "Someone must have forgot…Or maybe the cleaning crew turned on the lights."

Bill Jaros of the Cadillac store said "We understand the importance of turning off the lights, but we can't afford to black out the lot. Theft is a problem, and that's just as costly."

The paper checked dealerships in other communities and found more of the same in Van Nuys and Thousand Oaks, but the apathy isn't confined to Southern California. In San Francisco's Union Square, retailers and restaurants were keeping the lights on while the city slept.

"If store are cutting back, I haven't noticed," said Brendan Koehl, manager of Williams Sonoma, a designer housewares boutique. "The heart of Union Square looks the same, everything is bright, everything is on."

In his February 1 order, Davis called on all California retail establishments to "substantially reduce maximum outdoor lighting capability during nonbusiness hours." A week later, he defined "substantially" as 50 percent.

Local police are responsible for issuing citations to scofflaws, but say they have their hands full with their ordinary duties. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David Cervantes told the Times his agency is focused on street crime, not store lights. "We aren't issuing citations," he said. Sgt. Rick Young of the Glendale Police Department said "We don't believe this is a police matter. What do police officers know about monitoring energy use?"

Californians will conserve electricity when it becomes financially painful for them to waste it.

Enron Boss Gives State Some Energy Ideas Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay showed up at a May 17 meeting with Mayor Richard Riordan of Los Angeles armed with a four-page report listing several ways California could help itself out of its self- induced electricity crisis, it was reported Sunday.

California needs more deregulation, not more, Lay's report said. He also agreed that the state should increase its conservation efforts, mostly by letting retail electricity prices send a signal to consumers..

Lay also thinks that retail power customers should pay the full cost of electricity they purchased at artificially low prices from the state's investor-owned utilities, an amount estimated to be about $13 billion, and said that investigations into alleged "price gouging" are contributing to the problems.

Mark Palmer, an Enron spokesman, said "our position is simple." California needs to "increase the supply of energy and decrease the demand."

Davis' spokesman Steve Maviglio dismissed the report as a "generator's wish list." Maviglio appears to have acquired his knowledge of both the electric industry and economics at the governor's knee.

NorCal Muni to Produce Extra Power to Help State A municipal utility in northernmost California will run its power plant twice as hard as usual this summer in order to help the state through its energy crisis, the Redding Record-Searchlight reported yesterday.

The California Independent System Operator, which scrambles to pay top dollar for power to keep the state's transmission system from collapsing, will be happy with the extra 73 megawatts of power. Last year, the Redding Electric Department provided the ISO with a lot of short-term power at cost plus 10 percent, the paper said, but the ISO still owes the city $5 million.

The California Energy Commission, under an order by Gov. Davis relaxing emissions standards, approved Redding's request that running the plant would not deplete the city's emissions credits so it could provide the extra power. Even so, the relatively new and clean gas-fired plant will operate well within limits set by the California Environmental Quality Act.

Pat Keener, customer and energy services manager for the municipal utility, told the paper that selling the power to the state was business as usual – but the city expects to get paid.

Governor Continues to Plead for Rate Caps Gov. Davis launched on Friday what he termed a "full frontal attack" on federal regulators, seeking once more price caps on wholesale electricity in California. Price controls, economists agree, are the surest way to create a shortage where none exists and worsen a shortage that already exists.

The governor smells a political change in Washington, with the U.S. Senate changing to Democrat control, and he suspects that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission might be weakening in its opposition to price caps.

With the governor's backing, the California Public Utilities Commission, Cal-ISO and the state electricity Oversight Board petitioned FERC to reconsider its April 25 order rejecting broad price controls.

Another petition asks that the rights of The Williams Cos. and AES Corp. to sell electricity at market prices be revoked. The right of sellers to charge market prices is part of the California electric restructuring package, but the rights come up for review after three years. The state plans to challenge the right of other marketers and power producers to charge market prices for power.

Governor Gets 20 Minutes with Bush Today President Bush, making his first trip to California, has set aside 20 minutes this afternoon to meet with Davis in Century City. The Democrat governor promised to repeat his request that the federal government impose a ceiling on wholesale power prices.

We hope the governor does not tell the president that his "Texas buddies" are "the biggest snakes on the planet earth," or worse.

-- Martin Thompson (, May 30, 2001


"Price controls, economists agree, are the surest way to create a shortage where none exists and worsen a shortage that alread exists."

Truer words have never been spoken.

-- JackW (, May 30, 2001.

Have the RE and co-gen porviders been paid?
Once they get paid they can do the maintenance and repairs and bring their units on line, a full third of the power available.
Oddly the 5++ billion dollars thrown down the elctron rat hole could of been spent of RE (renewable energy) installs.
RE = wind gennys and photovoltaic / solar cells.
5 billion would of really brought the factories online and brought the manufacturing costs way down!
I know the 5 number is more like 7 but who's counting.

-- (, May 30, 2001.

Got a chuckle from this article in yesterday's SF Gate, about temperatures kept low in the ISO office and elsewhere. "It's for the computers! Honest!" file=/chronicle/archive/2001/05/29/MN208422.DTL

The hottest places were for elected officials such as Gray Davis and Willie Brown. Hm, perhaps that was appropriate?

-- Margaret J (, May 30, 2001.

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