Saturday, July 7, 2012

Deregulation and privatization - a cautionary tale

Terrance Heath writes a story of frequent and ruinous power outages in territory served by The Potomac Electric Power Company, a utility supplying electricity to Washington, D.C. and surrounding communities in Maryland. For reasons that should be obvious, Business Insider ranked Pepco the most hated company in America.

Powerless: Conservative Failure Returns Us To The Dark Ages, Terrance Heath, Campaign for America's Future, July 5, 2012
"Actually, we were lucky this time. The latest blackout happened the night before we were due to leave on a week long family vacation. After living through at least one extended outage per year — usually in the winter, spent shivering in a home without heat. This time we spent it sitting in an air conditioned hotel, checking power restoration updates, instead of sitting in our now overheated home, in 100-plus degree heat, with the kids.

"Five days. That's how long we would have spent sitting, sweating, and waiting. That's how long it took before we finally got confirmation that our home had power again.

"Once we get home, we'll have to throw out the food in the fridge, order Chinese, and make sure our son's goldfish survived. We'll probably wonder when the next outage will hit us.

"You see, about six years ago our previous Republican governor appointed a man with close ties to the industry to the Maryland Public Services Commission who lobotomized the commission, which is supposed to regulate utilities. MPSC has never really recovered from that "lobotomy".

"...To add insult to injury, ThinkProgress reports that Pepco has made huge profits, paid big bonuses to employees, and appear to have paid no taxes.

"According to OurDC, Pepco spent more on lobbying than on taxes in 2010.

"Over four years, Pepco received over $817 million in federal tax breaks.

"There's still more. And perhaps this is the most outrageous. Last year, after the five-day "thundersnow" power outage, the Washington Post reported on a little known regulation that allows Pepco to raise rates after a power outage."

"So, to recap, we have have a government-subsidized, untaxed, virtually unregulated, corporate monopoly that has no real incentive to reduce outages or downtime, because (a) there's nowhere else for its customers to go for electricity, and (b) they get paid whether they're supplying us with power or not.

"I guess that's business friendly regulation for ya."
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12 comments:

  1. "The most hated company in America"

    In times gone by the CEO would take great offence to such a comment. Not so much any more.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are doing a great service Norman - you're one of the few still willing to confront the vast ill-informed majority....
    I fear the world population today is like lemmings racing towards a tipping point, but the crux or precipice is NOT an environmental or climate crisis (which IMO is a false distraction - tho I too oppose pollution) but rather it is a social, economic, political and spiritual crisis which beyond some point will see mankind unable to save itself from self-destruction. It's out of control, and the powers of greed and deceit are increasingly seen behind the most heinous of crimes, like the merging network of sexual perverts in the police and military and politicians (Pickton, Williams, JonBenet, 9/11 etc,) and systemic murders of people who have come to know too much (Water War Crimes. Gareth Brit spy, Residential school students, DES hookers, etc Mexico etc 9/11 CO2e WTC7 "somebody wants them dead").
    Today I learned of Canadian political and business connections to the elite in China - another venue where deaths happen with regularity. It was truly disturbing.
    Re U.S. power systems owned by private corps, there are inherent problems with private-sector entities providing utility services with for-profit contracts (eg B.C.'s IPPs) - it is a sort of psychological non sequiter - it doesn't compute!
    But the greedy megalomaniacs are always searching for new vehicles to drain (eg BCR, LDB) and the people as owners are ill-informed as their jewels are sold off cheap.
    Maybe it is not too late for B.C. eh, if more of us gave a damn and dared to speak out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sort of thing is happening everywhere. It's becoming normalized. I don't understand why people put up with it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Norm, for a succinct post that could be summed up as, a number of "gob smack after gob smack":

    "There's still more. And perhaps this is the most outrageous. Last year, after the five-day "thundersnow" power outage, the Washington Post reported on a little known regulation that allows Pepco to raise rates after a power outage."

    Superb image too, if you took it yourself - congrats, but you probably took it from either their fancy annual financial statement or (shudder even more) from some of their promotional material.

    The sunrise or sunset sky, pink to blue, the natural world and beyond, being gradually blotted out by the matrices of the corporate piggies and their bought and paid for pet politicians.

    ReplyDelete
  5. BC Hydro is shutting down its own turbines, due to contracts to purchase expensive IPP power. BC Hydro debt to rise to $18 billion by 2015:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Hydro+rates+fall+short+meeting+needs/6899234/story.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All part of the plan to bankrupt BC Hydro, so the private companies can reap the benefits. Watch for rates to double and then double again, in the near future. They're going to have to pay for those "dumb" meters somehow.

      Delete
  6. Harper and his Conservatives, are all about, greed, power over the masses. Gordon Campbell works for Harper, as do the Chrisy Clark BC Liberals. Harper is obsessed with control, as was Campbell.

    Canada is rotten to the core with corruption. BC is the most corrupt province in Canada. Between Harper and Campbell, BC is in financial ruin. Our assets and resources, thieved, sold and gone.

    Harper is a, very good friend of Hu Jinto. Communist China owns huge chunks of the tar sands. They are bringing their own people over, to work their tar sands. Communist China is bringing swarms over, to build the Enbridge
    pipeline.

    Campbell shipped our BC mills to China, along with BC's raw logs. Communist China also own BC mines. They are bringing their own people over, to work those jobs too.

    Fadden of CSIS, warned of Communist China's, deep inroads into Canada. Remember, Campbell pitched a fit when Fadden named BC? Fadden is exactly right.

    Harper screws up, everything he touches. He started out with a $13 billion dollar surplus. Harper has put Canada into the largest debt, in this Nations recorded history.

    Canada is in a very dark and evil era. Harper is a tyrannical, dictator leader. Well over 2/3 and counting Canadians, want Harper gone. Harper is the worst, most corrupt and rotten P.M.....This country has ever known. Harper has not, one saving grace.

    Gordon Campbell has the worst, evil, most corrupt and foul political record, this Nation has ever known....he is Harper's very best partner in crime. So is Boessenkool, another of Harper's favorite henchmen.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We must give the Federal NDP a chance to clean up the mess the Liberals and Conservatives have created. Our political and justice system is in a chronic need of an overhaul. Let your NDP candidate know, we don't want criminals rewarded with huge pensions and severance packages anymore, just the big boot to the behind ("Don't let the door hit you on the way out!").

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am afraid it won't matter who is in power as long as people continue to feed the beast it will continue to devour us and the beast has an insatiable appetite.

    Everyone needs to stop giving them their hard earned income, it is enriching the elite insiders and being claimed as a debt to us. How the hell does that work?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We stopped feeding the beast - we don't work for them, and we are not buy anything that they are trying to sell (as much as possible). We will starve the beast, which will then shrivel up and blow away.

      How to do it:

      1) develop an awareness of who they are, and tell others (thanks, Norm), 2) quit giving them your time and money, and your vote, 3) Live simply and self-sufficiently, because that is what they are afraid of.

      Delete
  9. its about holding the politicians accountable. It is also about corporations & politicians lining each other's pockets. This is about how well "private enterprise" provides services.

    Old WACy had it right when he started B.C. Hydro. it was doing well for us until Campbell started his caimpaign of rewarding these run of the river companies. We will pay for it for the next 30 yrs. We need to take the company back to what it was & we had better electrical rates.

    ReplyDelete

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