Letter From the Editor

 

Donít Be Left in the Dark

 

OK, so California Gov. Gray Davis wasnít very helpful during his first year in office when he kept saying there isnít an energy crisis. Now he has recognized reality and is saying politically correct things like, If everyone conserves it will be OK. Or how about this gem: Itís the presidentís fault for not talking action.

 

Along with everyone else, I am learning to live with this problem and the threat of blackouts. The small things I have done include not taking elevators and backing up my work more often on my desktop computer in the office. My portable with its natural battery backup is looking better all the time.

 

††††††††††† Now that it has been established that there is a problem, I think itís time we confronted it. For instance we all should know some basics about Californiaís power requirements. How much do we get from out of state and how about those guys who say windmills can solve our problems? What do you say to them? Well it turns out that the state provides much of this information online. Check http://www.energy.ca.gov/electricity/gross_system_power.html and you will find that only 1.24% of our power is generated by the wind. Solar is even worse at 0.3%. Natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear and coal are carrying most of the weight.

††††††††††† How about our total power requirements? 49.5% of our petroleum comes from California and 24.8% from Alaska. Donít forget that we import 25.7% from foreign countries. In 2000 we imported 18% of our electricity. Find the details at http://www.energy.ca.gov/html/energysources.html.

According to the U.S. Department of Energyís Energy Information Administration (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/sep/ca/frame.html), California ranks third in the nation in production of crude oil; 11th in production of natural gas; third in net generation of hydroelectric power, and sixth in nuclear electricity. While it ranks second in the total amount of energy consumed, it ranks 48th in the amount consumed per person.

The answer is clear: build more power plants. If we are 48th in per person use of power, then we are already conserving.

 

For some more important energy facts, check out http://www.energy.ca.gov/html/calif_energy_facts.html.

 

Ever wonder why the price of gas is higher in Northern California than in southern? Check the governmentís answer to this question at http://www.energy.ca.gov/gasoline/q-and-a.html. Remember these answers are one version of the truth. They go to the trouble to mention that Ronald Reagan took away price controls on gasoline so the state could not fix the price. Two ways to look at that: he took away a powerful tool from the government and probably took away the chances we will have to wait in gas lines.

 

If you want to follow the moment-by-moment energy usage in the state, click on http://www.caiso.com/SystemStatus.html. Hit refresh to get the up-to-the-minute numbers and see where we are versus the projection for the day. Click on the warnings if your stomach can take it.

 

††††††††††† We energy consumers should demand more information. This is a difficult situation, but we shouldnít be kept in the dark. How about an energy forecast? Not a lot different from a weather forecast. A Public Utilities Commission Web notice of impending doom would help. Five minutes could save your ass in some situations. How about an e-mail warning of an impending blackout to everyone who would like one? They donít shut fire departments down, but fire fighters arenít the only ones who need power or could use a warning.

 

--Don

wiz@wwwiz.com