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It really doesn't matter what happens at the federal level. The real destruction of America is being done at the state level. Money can be spent much more efficiently at the state level. Those with the money are using there power to crush those without at a level that much more directly affects their lives. Meanwhile they are happy just to paralyze the national government.  

Electric choice is a triumph of ideology over fairness and rationality.

In the 1930's electric power became universally available thanks to the Roosevelt programs including the building of hydroelectric projects, the Rural Electrification Act, and programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority.  

As a legacy of that era the Nashville Electric Service contains this quaint statement about electric rates:

NES energy rates are set and regulated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  All residential customers in the NES service area pay the same electric rate regardless of social status, income, or place of residence.

These men built a universally available electric power system. It provided a base for economic recovery and the industrial growth in the 1950's. It provided power to rural areas and allowed the jobs and convenience of a multitude electric powered appliances to the entire nation.  

Now that the system has been built lazy entitled people are turning it into a system to rip off all but the wealthy and powerful. It is part of the extractive economy we now live under which takes from those who produce services and products and gives it to the least principled and most greedy.

Spreading from the land of Enron comes electric choice which works on the time honored principle of:

"We cheat the other guy and pass the savings along to you."
Proposed Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1121 takes this bad system makes it much worse.  

More below:

With Electric Choice the old power companies become "Electric Distribution Companies" (EDC). Then there are Electric Generation Suppliers (EGS). EGS's are:  

A person or corporation, including municipal corporations which choose to provide service outside their municipal limits ... brokers and marketers, aggregators or any other entities, that sell to end-use customers electricity or related services utilizing the jurisdictional transmission and distribution facilities of an EDC, or that purchase, broker, arrange or market electricity or related services for sale to end-use customers utilizing the jurisdictional transmission and distribution facilities of an EDC.
If you say you are an Electric Supplier you are. If you actually get anyone to buy it you can figure out how to get electricity later. The great thing is you don't have to reveal the price being charged. Just get yourself a login as a generation and the EDS will send you data and information on default customers. Then get a phone and start harassing Pennsylvania residents. Make sure you tell them how lazy and ignorant they are for staying with the default rate. A Texas drawl is preferred but not required.

There are many ways to make money off of this new market. There are websites which sell space advertising space for electric choice.  Startups are being acquired.  Electric power is being monetized. Credit default swaps type instruments must figure in there somewhere.

The goal is confuse and chop up the residential customers and see how can extract the most money.  Where the Public Utility Commission used to have the hard work of negotiating with the big power companies they now are happy to leave them one there own to sort through up to a hundred different companies with unreadable contracts to sign. A skilled computer users with basic spreadsheet skills, having a couple of days to spend each year on carefully examining terms and conditions can keep their increases in costs for electricity down to ten or twenty percent. Less cautious people have received bills double or triple  what they had paid.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1121 would require customers to choose a new electricity supplier and would give them $50 for doing so. Those who do not switch would be put into an auction, and suppliers would court them for their service. If the bill passes, it would go into effect in June 2015.

“We’re looking at new ways to move the needle on competition,” said Powelson.

Texas has been the leader in the U.S. for retail electricity choice for years. In DEFG’s 2014 report, the state scored a 92 out of 100, with Pennsylvania ranked second with a score of 64. Other states are also seeing an increase in competition. Illinois had more than 3 million customers switch their suppliers last year, up from about 500,000 in 2012.

Most residential customers do not want to sign up with new electric suppliers. This does not sit well with the electric company minions in the legislature. They have proposed a bill to force electric companies on those who refuse to leave the big old companies.

A Senate bill combines bad electric policy with bad fiscal policy to make sure everyone participates in their scheme. The bill sells each non switched customer to EGS's for $100 or $150. They project this will be a one time windfall of $300 million dollars to the state. This will allow Governor Corbett to reduce the state deficit for one year while being able to leave the systemic budget problems for a successor to deal with. Truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill SB 1121 is sponsored by the following Senators:

Bob Mensch (R-24)
Michael Waugh (R-28)
John Yudichak (D-14)
Donald White (R-41)
Mike Folmer (R-48)
Jake Corman (R-34)
David Argall (R-29)
Richard Alloway (R-33)
John Blake (D-22)

Originally posted to Ron Aker on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 06:23 PM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not a model of clarity, but I'm not a novice. The (15+ / 0-)

    whole deregulation of the electric utility function is a clusterfuck, and never could have been, or could be, anything but.

    Air travel in the U.S., before the Right got their way with it, got everyone everywhere they needed to go, reliably and affordably. Now, not so much.

    Evolution is happening. Change is coming. But that doesn't mean that we can't plan for it all.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 06:35:58 PM PST

    •  There is just so much wrong with the program (5+ / 0-)

      It's hard to get it all in without rambling on too long. Take the pricing for renewable energy. If you support green energy you can pay more. That doesn't mean any change to where your electricity comes from. It doesn't create any more energy. If you live next to a coal plant and have a kid with asthma you still should invest in good air filters. Pennsylvania has regulations to require more renewable power, but you paying more for someone who claims to by power from a Kansas wind farm isn't going to change anything.

      It's hard to get everything bad in a readable space.

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.- Jeannette Rankin

      by CA148 NEWS on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 07:01:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  air travel sucked under CAB, sucks worse now. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, thanatokephaloides


      •  Yeah but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        At least you got fed. Not the best of food, but at least it was food, and you didn't have to lug it with you or pay outrageous prices for it.

        I never thought I'd say it, but I miss airline food.

        •  i'm glad airline food is gone. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          I much prefer grabbing a sandwich at the airport
          food court, and taking it on the plane.

          The FA's like it too because they pass out drinks
          and collect trash and the airlines like it because its'
          so much simpler logistically.

          Now what I would like is if they are pulling the galleys, that
          they have more seat pitch and a back to back quad seat area
          in the back so the FA's can stretch out a bit or a family
          can travel together.

          •  Nickle and diming ... (0+ / 0-)

            you to death. Buy your own sandwich at the overpriced airport food court. Check. Pay up to $150 for the "privilege" of having your luggage travel with you. Check. Pay premium rates for aisle seats or exit row seats. Check. Pay extra for headphones, blankets, pillows, aspirin, water, etc. Check.

            You may think CAB sucked but the current system is far, far worse.

            If you don't watch the news, you're uninformed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

            by edg on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:12:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  the fees for checked luggage are BS. (0+ / 0-)

              I agree,

              but, i never had a problem with the food charges.

              I like choosing my own food.

              Also, my favorite airline in the world was "People's Express", remember them?

              You hauled your luggage out to the tarmac, the
              pilots loaded the luggage,  you paid a buck for a coke,
              a buck for a brownie, a buck for half a sandwich.

              if you didn't want to buy you didn't pay.

              It was as close to Greyhound as possible.

  •  My mother-in-law, suffering from vascular (28+ / 0-)

    dementia, waved a letter from her electric provider in front of me and asked me with a concerned expression what she should do.

    It was a letter informing her that her contract would expire "soon," and offering her a "very low" (read exorbitant) rate if she would sign up right now.

    The purpose of their letter was two-fold.  One, to hook her into a ridiculously high contract rate, or failing that, to cheat her out of her cancellation fee.

    You see, in Texas, if you switch providers within five weeks or so of the contract expiration, you do not forfeit the cancellation fee, which in her case was $250.  Providers are required to send you a letter informing you of this fact.

    But the letter didn't say anything about that.  It suggested that she should sign up for the new rate right now.  "Right now" happened to be several weeks before the beginning of her grace period.  

    The letter also failed to tell her that shortly before her grace period arrived, they would be forced to send her a second letter advising her she had the right to change providers without penalty within the grace period.

    If, as I'm sure many do, she had realized that the rate was almost double what she could get elsewhere and thinking that the letter meant she was in her grace period, she might have switched providers right then and there, and would have been caught in the "Catch 22" created by her provider's less than complete explanation of her rights, which "suggested" that now was the time to get a new rate.

    Pretty sad.  Poor woman could not even concentrate long enough to know what the issue was, much less read between the lines, and these vultures were trying to milk her for all they could.

    I told her to wait a few weeks and she'd be getting a second letter from her electric company, and at that time I would get her a lower rate - without penalty.

    There are people in prison who don't belong there, and there are people not in prison who should be locked up.  The latter often sit behind desks at companies ostensibly there to "serve" us.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 06:51:43 PM PST

  •  After posting this Electric Choice ads show up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Patango, ladybug53

    on the KOS page. Does this happen to anyone else or is just because I looked at the sites while researching?

    You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.- Jeannette Rankin

    by CA148 NEWS on Sat Feb 22, 2014 at 07:56:04 PM PST

  •  Solar PV is the best investment. (4+ / 0-)

    bypass the utilties.

    •  Yes and encourage anyone doing this (8+ / 0-)

      To do it on their rooftop or at least on  their property. The idea of being hooked into a centralized "solar" farm or wind farm is silly. Destructive to the environment, and also,the first time a storm hits, the community still has to fear that they lose their power until repairs to power lines are made...

      A landlord down in Sacramento Calif added solar to the rooftops of each of his 22 units. The renters paid him, and he paid for the utilities. After the solar was installed, he paid a grand total of $ 22 a month total. Not for each unit, but for all of them combined.

    •  But realistically (5+ / 0-)

      There is so much advantage in universal electric power and real economies of scale. Hydroelectric power is cheap and reliable, but a huge capital investment. The people with the resources and sophistication to install solar panels are not the ones who are getting the most ripped off. See the comment above.  

      You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.- Jeannette Rankin

      by CA148 NEWS on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:43:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  but anyone can do solar (0+ / 0-)

        and the more who do so, the less room for the scammers.

        •  not everyone can do solar (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CA148 NEWS
          but anyone can do solar
          and the more who do so, the less room for the scammers.
          Not everyone can "do solar". A significant number (if not a majority) of Americans live in apartments, most NOT by choice. These folks have no choice on how the buildings they live in conduct their business; they are the scammers' chiefest targets for that very reason.

          (I know, just one more reason to abolish high-density residences of any sort!)

          "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

          by thanatokephaloides on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 10:27:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  We picked a green energy company (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kansas Born

    and saved $0.05/kWh.

    What is the problem?

  •  Natural Gas deregulation in Georgia (8+ / 0-)

    Natural gas was deregulated here in Georgia years ago with the promise that competition would lower residential customer's bills.  What a joke.  Here is the reality of that.  The gas bill is now broken out into two parts, the local public utility bills for their infrastructure and the company that supplies the gas bills for the gas used.  Oh yea and they bill you $6.00 or so (that's $72.00/year) for the privilege of billing you (billing service charge).   There are months in the summer where the gas used  to heat water is a few dollars and the sum of the billing and infrastructure charges is $30 - $40.  What a deal!

    The truth of course is that now that the price of gas is not regulated, large users can negotiate better prices.  Residential users are small and the amount of gas they purchase almost isn't worth billing for, unless of course you charge for billing.  Why anyone would think deregulation of public utilities like gas or electric would benefit consumers is beyond me.  If you still believe that it would, I suggest you look at your cable bill over the last 10 years and what has happened to it.

    The only good thing that came out of natural gas deregulation here in Georgia was that when they started talking about doing the same thing with electric, the idea died a quick death.  Fool me once......

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:51:37 PM PST

    •  I'm not an expert on Georgia (6+ / 0-)

      but the federal government deregulated interstate gas prices.  (Thanks to Jimmy Carter, a true visionary of the "market.")  States can't do anything about that, although they still have the authority to regulate the price a local distribution company can charge to deliver the gas to you, and most do so based on the cost of the service.

      Electricity deregulation is a nightmare, proven by the California experience that got Gray Davis recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sp?) elected in his place.  There's irony here - the latter is a Republican enamored of the same dumbass "competition" policies that caused the problem in the first place.  It's pretty obvious that if you force public utility companies to sell their generation assets to companies that are UNREGULATED, they're going to charge like crazy, and the utilities will have to pay what they ask, and the regulators can't do a damned thing about it.  This is no place to try operating a "market."

      State public utility commissions generally do their best to keep prices reasonable, but there's only so much they can do, what with politicians enabling the latest dreams of the robber barons.  The old vertically-integrated electric utility, operated as a monopoly, and closely overseen by a commission, is the way to go.  Of course, people who say that are considered backward in some circles.

      "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

      by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:10:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not the same thing (3+ / 0-)

        States can still regulate the price of gas within the state, it has nothing to do with National Gas Policy Act of 1978 (read about that here).

        Thanks to the "deregulation" passed in Georgia in 1997, we pay 37% more on average than other states.  One more thing we can thank Zell Miller for. Prior to that the PSC controlled the gas company just like any other public utility, setting the rates that the utility could charge.  

        The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

        by Do Something on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 10:20:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  LDCs buy gas from gas producers (0+ / 0-)

          and the price at the wellhead is deregulated.  The federal deregulation process began in 1978 and continued to the 80s.  That's exactly what the source to which you pointed me says.  State commissions can't regulate interstate operations.  That's FERC's job.

          However, I gather from your comments that Georgia has taken the additional step of permitting marketers (rather than, or in addition to, the local distribution company) to buy gas and sell direct to customers, using the local distribution gas company's pipelines (who are permitted to charge a nondiscriminatory fee to such marketers) and therefore you as a customer can choose a supplier that's not your LDC.  That's something several states have done to introduce "competition," and the common name for it is "customer choice." But the marketers are still buying gas from the producers, whose prices are ultimately beyond state regulators' control.

          If that is the case in Georgia, you have a third layer of businessmen added to your bill:  the "marketer."  The original gas producer and the local distribution company, which has to keep the delivery system operating and in repair, still have to be paid.

          "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

          by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:46:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  People keep telling us (0+ / 0-)

    but in the four years since the caps in Pennsylvania came off, our bill has not changed when we made the choice to switch to a different electricity utility provider. In fact it went down when we switched, and has remained the same.

    Everything in my house is electric; from the heat to the stove to the water heater. Not even the recent cold snap has given us an insane bill.

    I'm still not seeing what the problem is; our bill would have skyrocketed if we'd stayed with PP&L. We switched. It went down. I don't see the problem with utility choice.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:01:45 PM PST

  •  Very interesting / distressing ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CA148 NEWS

    While there is value from 'decoupling', to do this in paths that do not serve societal and consumer interests in any reasonable definition of the term is absolutely unreasonable.  The game to play this (via selling off customers) to solve the near term budget challenge is interesting and, again, abusive -- have to say a very inventive 'avoid tax' way to raise revenue.

    A point -- something that I have been meaning to blog about -- is that Rural Electrification set back renewables decades.  This could have been done, in many areas, with distributed power generation -- even in the 1930s (wind towers) -- but the policy choice was for large power generation systems and wires. You weren't allowed to connect to the wires and have your own electricity generation (such as a wind turbine or micro-hydro ...).  

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:36:12 AM PST

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