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Congressperson, Senators:

Corporate energy has proven time after time that it is only interested in profit.

Energy for profit has failed to maintain our overlarge power grids, has failed to innovate in the area of energy delivery systems, energy for profit has failed to innovate in creating more rapid response warning systems to alert utilities of outages, and the profit motive has failed to decentralize power generation by having more power generation sources distributed around the grid, rather than all of it being concentrated in large power plants.

Outages can be caused by an overstressed electrical grid trying to deliver large amounts of power on hot days. Sometimes outages are manmade such as when market manipulation by Enron led to rolling blackouts in California. While the current outages are primarily due to downed distribution lines—the lines that carry power through neighborhoods and into houses—other large-scale blackouts were caused by problems with the transmission grid, which carries large amounts of electricity from power plants into communities.

To counter downed lines, Germany has put most of its transmission lines underground. Our privatized energy system fears that doing this would cut into profits.

Furthermore, smart meters—devices in consumers’ homes that monitor their power use and communicate with the utility—can make it much easier for line crews to respond to outages without waiting for consumers to call the utility. This would be especially useful in times when telecommunications systems are damaged, and people can’t call the utility.

When we rely on centralized power plants, damages to just one line can cause massive outages. If the generation was spread widely across the grid, then damage to that same line will not have the same catastrophic consequences. While some people help by buying a diesel-burning generator (which pollutes the air and has very high fuel costs), many people could make a much smarter investment by putting solar panels on their rooftops.

Obviously, the profit motive serves us miserably, especially when energy corporations hold monopolies in regions which do not allow for the selection of the free market.

Profit is far more important to these nonhuman entities than service to customers.

Frankly, I'd like to nationalize energy. Maybe us poor energy consumers could get some decent service then -- and we'd be providing a lot of jobs for jobless Americans who desperately need work.

I stole most of my talking points from Center for American Progress.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Democratic Party... (3+ / 0-)

    ....does NOT advocate nationalization of industry.

    We are not Socialists or Communists.

    There are means available to demand performance of private industry by means of REGULATION.

    With regard to the crappy electric supply grid, the government ought to be able to demand certain performance and equipment standards in return for the right to conduct business in a non-competitive market, all without seizing private property.

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 03:46:44 PM PDT

    •  The Democratic Party Also Doesn't Advocate New (5+ / 0-)

      Deal era taxes that gave us our only large middle class, business and media anti trust and financial regs that gave us our only half century of panic-free stable economic growth, the trade policies beginning in Hamilton's time that gave us a vibrant rich domestic economy, or the single payer national health care that would take away from us a system that is outlawed in all the other developed nations. They advocate conservative policies of the past 30 some years in all these areas.

      Just because the party doesn't back it doesn't make it a bad idea.

      My electric power is government provided and is cheaper than everywhere around us; elsewhere in the region there's at least one municipal owned generating plant.

      Nationalization of electricity or maybe at least the grid has a lot going for it even though it's not going to be politically possible at any foreseeable time.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 04:34:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Live in Sac? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karen Hedwig Backman

        Sacramento Municipal Utility District does what you describe; I don't believe the community seized the power generation and distribution systems to attain that state...

        As I recall, the other CA utilities are trying to prevent other communities from replicating SMUD in their areas....(Or maybe they've succeeded while I was gone?)

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 06:24:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My small town provides (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karen Hedwig Backman

        electric for the whole community and our rates are about a third compared to the city and surrounding towns.  Why can't every community do this?

  •  Most German power plants are owned by their (3+ / 0-)

    utility companies. These companies are public (owned by stockholders) just like most US utility companies. So power in Germany that you're using as an example is not nationalized.

    •  Tell me about these privatized German utilities. (0+ / 0-)

      What are their names?

      How profitable are they?

      How are they regulated?

      How is the energy market in Germany regulated?

      •  Regulation is a different story altogether. (0+ / 0-)

        It was not a part of the diary. Utilities:

        E.ON http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        RWE http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        As you can see, they are pretty profitable.

        •  Turns out I have a relative (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG

          With interesting German connections. Here's a summary:

          ... German electricity is now fully privatized, but strictly regulated within the auspices of the EU - as all of the EU is connected. There are about 800 companies that provide electricity for Germany, but only 4 major players control about 80% of all energy delivery, creating a homogeneous oligopoly (not quite a monopoly!)

          However, German law, administered by the Ministry for Economy and Technology, makes it the responsibility of the power grid providers to maintain the flow of electricity and they can be punished if they fail. Every year, a report on the performance of the network providers is made. Paragraph 51 of the Energy Economics Law (EnergieWirtschaftsGesetz) specifically places that burden on the providers. In 2010, there was only 14.9 minutes of unavailability in Germany.

          The subagency responsible is called Bundesnetzagentur (Federal-net-agency) for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunication, Mail and Railroad.  http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/...

          German utilities may now be largely privatized but they are highly regulated. Meanwhile, American utilities have become more and more deregulated, to our great cost.
  •  You'd do well to study the history of nationalized (0+ / 0-)

    commercial and industrial sectors around the world before commenting.  The US has a mix of corporate, PUC regulated and a few public elements in the energy production and delivery sectors.  There is also a complex web of subsidies involved.

    I doubt anyone really wants to see Gazprom or Pemex as the model for our energy future.  On the other hand BPA has worked out pretty well.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Tue Jul 03, 2012 at 08:41:10 PM PDT

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