Friday, December 18, 2009

Editorial: Is APS reacting to conservation savings?

Sometimes I despair that the unnamed Courier editor is even capable of seeing past I-me-mine. Today's editorial notes that people are conserving energy (a good thing), and that APS wants higher rates (a normal thing), and jumps to another logic-free connection.

Perhaps someone should explain to the editor that people are conserving energy because they need to save money. If energy were cheaper, we'd have less conservation.

Meanwhile the fuels that APS uses are increasingly expensive and supplies are inevitably diminishing. The grid system we all rely on for electric power is technologically Stone Age and under-maintained, raising both fixed and labor costs. Shareholders demand profits, so managers must demand prices. That's just how it is. Reducing electricity use does not reduce generation -- the potential across the wires is always the same. So the only way to reduce costs in response to conservation is to reduce capacity, by taking generators offline. We're a long way from that kind of savings, and it'll probably never happen to any significant degree. What actually happens is that most of what we don't use here is used somewhere else. The rest is simply wasted as unused potential.

I have to say that higher energy prices -- prices that more faithfully reflect the true costs of the stupid system we have -- are good for us in that they force us to conserve and allow sensible alternatives to compete. Any sane projection for the future includes far higher prices for fossil fuels. Let's get used to it, and make lemonade.

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