deregulation backfires in Maryland

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Micah Cohen, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Years ago, the Maryland state government deregulated our electric & gas utilities. This was supposed to make for competition, but of course it did not, because Baltimore Gas & Electric got special treatment to keep their rates low so no one could compete.

    Now, the problem is about to come home to roost. On July 1, my BGE electric and gas bill will go up 72%, can you believe this?

    I will choose to pay the increase in a lump sum right at the beginning, so I don't get slapped with an extra
    interest fee by spreading the payments out. But this is a horrible rip off. And no one will in power will suffer. In fact, state legislatures just voted themselves a nice pay raise.

    How is it that this happens? Why do we take it (in the behind) like sheep?

    More to the point, what can I do around the house to cut my already relatively small electric bill? First, I'll switch out my powered DefTech loudspeakers for non-powered Polks. Should I switch all my regular warm yellow light bulbs to those "energy saving" bulbs, which are usually sort of white instead of warm yellow? Can I throw this computer out my window? Suggestions?

    MC
     
  2. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    Be sure that when you do switch to polks, you don't power them with a Class A amplifier.
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    1) You didn't get deregulation. You got a shell game where one form of government intervention in the economy was replaced by another. So deregulation didn't backfire, it was never tried.

    2) If BG&E got "special treatment" to keep their rates low they were basically getting a government subsidy. So you were paying through your taxes for the "low" energy bill anyway. Now the subsidy has been pulled and you're facing market rates in a time when demand (especially from countries like India and China) and political uncertainty have pushed energy prices to very high levels. Sucks, but it doesn't tell us anything one way or the other about the value of deregulation.

    3) Most "energy saving" bulbs are a scam. [​IMG]

    All I can say, as a former Maryland resident, is that I'm not surprised. The state motto really should be, "Maryland - Just Like New Jersey But with Nicer Beaches" [​IMG]

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  4. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    This would only have a chance of helping the situation if you lived in Annapolis, preferably somewhere near the State House. Then you might have a chance of beaning a passing state representative or senator. [​IMG] (There would be little danger of injuring one, owing to the thickness of their skulls, but you might get somebody's attention.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  5. Fred Seger

    Fred Seger Stunt Coordinator

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    what do you mean? That the CF bulbs really don't use less energy or that the energy cost saved doesn't offset the cost of the bulb?
     
  6. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    gas-- heating
    electricity-- air conditioning

    those are probably the major consumers of energy in your house. However. it's entirely possible that your home is filled with small electrical devices (alarm clocks, for instance) that were designed with no regard for energyl conservation.

     
  7. KevinGress

    KevinGress Supporting Actor

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    Jeremy's right - us consumers, as a whole, are very unaware of the amount of energy our homes use. Out of curiousity, I've been researching windpower, and some of the things I've learned: (courtesy of www.otherpower.com)

    - Remote Controlled appliances--TVs, VCRs, stereos and such that turn on when you push a button on the remote. We've measured some TVs that use 6 watts (half an amp out of a 12-volt battery) just sitting there waiting for you to push "ON" on the remote!

    - Wall Warts--Those ubiquitous black cubes that plug into your sockets. These force you to make 12 volt DC power to charge your batteries, convert it to 110 volt AC with an inverter (and with power loss), then they convert it back down to around 12 volts DC (again at a loss). Plus they use power when your printer, charger, laptop computer, etc. is not even on!

    - Incandescent Light Bulbs--These dinosaurs produce 90% heat and only 10% light. Halogen lights are only slightly better, but last much longer.

    - Phantom Loads--Any appliance that draws power even when turned off. Includes the TVs and VCRs with remotes mentioned above, anything that has a clock (microwave, clock radio), and anything where you touch a button to turn on the power instead of just flipping an old-fashioned switch, even such innoccous items as washing machines.

    They even talk about how small night lights are energy wasters and that LEDs meant to replace bulbs aren't as efficient as we'd like to think.

    Unfortunately, not a lot of options - either turn off lights, unplug items, and be anal about it, or simply grumble and pay the bills.
     
  8. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Well, first of all, I laughed out loud at that. Been to Ocean City (MD) lately? New Jersey's lookin' mighty nice.

    Second of all, I'm distressed about all the things, the little tiny remote control push-a-button things in my house now... Just in this room: table-top stereo, printer, thermal printer (with wall-wart), wireless router, computer, desk lamp, bed-side lamp... Yipes!

    What if I installed a single switch in each room, next to the main light switch by the door, that in effect acted as a main room switch? Turning it off when I walk out of the room would turn off all the outlets in the room, which I would turn on when I walk back into the room?

    I'm stocking up on candles and hand-fans. It'll be like living in a cave. [​IMG]

    MC
     
  9. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    WHOA! [moving some wires around and looking behind stuff] And THREE electric clocks in this small room alone! THREE!

    [​IMG]

    MC
     
  10. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    An excuse eerily reminiscent of marxist apologetics.
     
  11. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Which is not to say that true deregulation is impossible or that it produces results indistinguishable from true marxism.
     
  12. Lynda-Marie

    Lynda-Marie Supporting Actor

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    Micah, here is a new theme song for you and your fellow energy customers in Maryland. It's REAL popular on this coast.

    To the tune of the Mickey Mouse Club Theme:

    So grab your ankles
    Drop your drawers
    And take it like a man
    F-U-C-K-E-D A-G-A-I-N

    Here in Washington State, the shell game we get are the drives to "conserve energy" or water or some other resource. I remember one year, there was a drive to save 10 million of gallons of water per day, by being much more efficient in watering lawns, doing only full loads of laundry, etc. The actual total saved was about 15-18 million gallons per day, due to people REALLY wanting to save money on their bills.

    Unfortunately, we were just a little TOO enthusiastic, because the water bills jumped - don't remember the percentage, but it was ridiculous - because the (f)utility was losing money. That's right, people of Washington, you were so efficient, that now we have to raise your bills. [​IMG]
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    There's really two sides to this-

    1. The notion that any basic, needed service (such as heat and electricity) would do better on the free market is laughable to me. C'mon- you have a 100% captive audience. One need look no further than the 40c increase in gas prices (that's here in NoVA) in the last four weeks to see this.

    2. Then again, the notion that nearly any American would conserve resources "just 'cause" is equally laughable, so a nice hard jab to the wallet is usually the only thing that works. After all, look at what you're doing.

    Please, do explain.

    Todd
     
  14. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    There are plenty of things that could be said to be "basic and needed", such as food, housing, and clothing. Few would argue that such industries would do better being State owned/operated, and that the market doesn't do a better job.

    It fascinates me that legally declared monopolies, subsidized, protected, and told how to operate (cable is another example) are held up as examples of the "failure of the market".
     
  15. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    You have a lot more options for food, housing, and clothing than you have for fuel, electricity, gas, etc. They are hardly comparable commodities.
     
  16. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Indeed you do, because government has decreed that it be so.

    Years ago we used to hear the same argument made about telephone service--that it was a "natural monopoly" that "had" to be provided by one company. Fortunately, that idea was junked, and we have many more choices now. That example and the food, housing, and clothing ones demonstrate that the "basic, needed" nature of a good or service has nothing to do with whether it can best be provided by the free market.
     
  17. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    Telephone deregulation was a good idea. But again, hardly comparable to scarce-resource markets like gas, electric, fuel. The barriers to entry are far different.

    Don't get me wrong, outside these unique markets, I'm very much against government market regulation in general.

    But let's be realistic, one economic solution does not fit all markets.
     
  18. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    I don't know much about world markets, free markets, trade agreements, monopolies or government, but I do know this: I know that the heads of oil companies and car manufacturers never stress about the price of gasoline. I know that heads of electric companies never stress about the cost of a kilowatt hour. I know that the people we elect to office are experts at voting themselves pay raises and not much else. I know that in my city, you have only one option when it comes to cable TV "choice." And I know that the heads of tobacco companies, fast food companies and soft drink companies probably don't use their own products themselves anymore.

    And I know that We The People are sheep -- Sheeple -- and we are truly ok with all this. We want to be conned into thinking that we need to "conserve" merely because our wallets are pinched (and that "conserving" will suddenly "help"). We want to believe that fast food is ok for our bodies and for our children. We know we can't have better cars, more choice, more options, better energy production. If we did, what on earth would we complain about? We may scoff at televangelists and their transparent come-ons for our money, but we gladly empty our wallets for the real scammers, the oil companies and the utilities and the politicians.

    Where are the economical, efficient cars? Where is the efficient, inexpensive power?

    We The Sheeple.

    No one is going to keep my energy bill from skyrocketing this summer. And my money is going to go into the pockets of someone who is not nearly as worried about it as I am. There is something deeply wrong about this equation.

    Now, where's my kerosene lamp, Paul Revere?

    [​IMG]

    MC
     
  19. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    I never stress about the price of gasoline.[​IMG]

    Then again, I don't drive.
     
  20. Micah Cohen

    Micah Cohen Screenwriter

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    Well, I never stress about tobacco taxes or the cost of a pack of cigarettes. I don't smoke.

    I never stress over the cost of napkins at the supermarket. I steal them in bulk from Dunkin Donuts wherever I stop there for a coffee.

    I never stress over the cost of a newspaper. I read them online.

    I sometimes feel like I've whittled my life down to these few necessities -- internet connection, coffee machine, home theater & music systems, car and bicycle, free book store, soy milk -- and to have the electric bill leap up like it will in July, out of my control without my changing anything, is a huge affront.

    I am affronted.

    MC
     

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