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Is the Net The Cause of California's Power Problems?

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the it-sure-isn't-my-rice-maker dept.

News 497

kenf writes "Salon Magazine has an article about folks from the power companies blaming the internet for their power shortage woes." Well, the net does consume a huge percentage of the nations electricity. The article makes a lot of good points. I'm glad I don't live in CA, but how long before it affects the rest of us?

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The Net will save power (5)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#501156)

In the old days, ca 1985, if I wanted porn, I had to drive to a newstand or an adult bookstore, burning precious gasoline.

Now I can sit at home and download it, saving energy.

You can apply this to any other kind of shopping you want to, also.

Rest of US builds Power PLants (1)

phunhippy (86447) | more than 13 years ago | (#501246)

I don't think it will affect the rest of the US, because unlike California, most other states actually build Power Plants... nifty concept ya know..

Always someone elses fault (1)

kimery (139471) | more than 13 years ago | (#501249)

Yeah, the internet. And all those damn TV's! What about all the power stations that have been taken off the grid? What about all the repairs that have not proceeded with a sense of urgency? Its an artifical problem, created by the power companies poor planning skills. Of course, its our fault for actually using electricity......

It's not the Internet, it's Holywood! (2)

tshak (173364) | more than 13 years ago | (#501251)

Do you guys have any IDEA how much electricity Holywood, Universal Studios, and all of the other Studio's/Major Amusment parks use over there? Most of their outlets are 220's!

What a bunch of crap (3)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 13 years ago | (#501259)

There is one reason, and one reason alone for the power shortages: lack of power. We knew that we needed to build more power plants years ago, but the government totally screwed it up.

And now they blame deregulation! It's just incredible gall, when the problem began way before deregulation.

And no, conservation is not the answer. Not in the past, not now, and never will be. The pie is not limited, and doesn't have to be. More technology is the answer to the problems of technology. We are not going to return to the caves, so I hope people will just deal with the fact that most people like civilization.


Harsh marijuana policies are the cause (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#501265)

Think of all the California potheads that rely on indoor grown marijuana, a decent grow roow consumes hundred of kilowatts/hours a day.

If you could grow marijuana outside, using freely available sunlight, power consumption would drop.

Or the Californian's could jsut stop smoking pot, like that's gonna happen.

It probably does affect you... (3)

ejbst25 (130707) | more than 13 years ago | (#501271)

In one way or another. You or your company most likely buys a product from a company in Silicon valley...and if the price of electricity is going up and the outages are costing the companies..the price will slowly be passed on to you or your company as the consumer.

Hmm (5)

seizer (16950) | more than 13 years ago | (#501290)

To me, it seems simple: people want to buy power off the companies. Companies want to sell power to make money. Why the heck can't they sort it out properly?

Anyway, a typical desktop uses, say 350 watts, which is 252 kwh/month.

An A/C, or heater (and let's face it, Californians are going to have those on 24/7/365, too) is going to use 4 kw, which is 2880kwh/month.

Hmm. Why not blame those lazy Californians for wanting a perfect 70 degrees year round, rather than blaming them for wanting deathmatch, year round ;-)

Person power generators (1)

Frobozz0 (247160) | more than 13 years ago | (#501296)

What everyone needs is a way to produce a small amount of power for their own consumption. The use of a solor cells on their roof, for example, would allow them to offset the power they use on a daily basis. In fact, if everyone did that I bet you'd see a large dent in the amount of power consumed on a national level. I bet a couple solar panels could power your computer...

not the net (1)

jjlaw (191292) | more than 13 years ago | (#501299)

Actually the problem isn't because there is a lack of power. The "deregulation" of the power market in CA has cause this. Legislation drafted several years ago caused the consumer side of the market to have a price cap while allowing the whole sale market to be free. The assumption was that the wholesale market would drop in time allowing the gap between the consumer cost and amt. for wholesale to grow allowing more profit. What actually happened was the wholesale market prices flew through the roof. With the consumer cap in place comapnies were loosing money hand over fist. Now the companies aren't able to pay their bills and the genearators are going to cut off the supply.

They *could* just repair/replace their old stuff (1)

willfe (6537) | more than 13 years ago | (#501305)

Sure, they could point fingers and blame that big nasty 'net, or they could just fix or replace their ailing, aging power plants, couldn't they? A storm (granted, a nifty big nasty one) actually managed to take down a nuclear power plant? Well that says a lot (of good things) for the safety systems there, but not a whole lot for the plant's design or operation. Why not fix what broke, work out how to prevent that failure from occuring again, implement that fix, then build more nuclear plants to retire the aging systems currently powering the state? At least they're getting threats of power loss in a state that doesn't have horrendous temperature extremes (back off, I know about Tahoe :). Last year we (in Colorado) got to listen to Texans whine about power failures (that actually happened, and weren't just threats) ... the main cause was all their precious air conditioning. Remember, folks, that stupid little A/C compressor chews up much more energy than your computers do. Hell, even in the production lab where I work the cooling systems use more electricity than our servers do.

It's not a power shortage.... (1)

tiltowait (306189) | more than 13 years ago | (#501306)

It's the effects of the so-called deregulation, which allowed the power distributors to create a cartel and therefore drive suppliers into near bankruptcy. There's plenty of power supply in California, just not enough money in the right places.

Certainly not the net! (2)

Lede Singer (253091) | more than 13 years ago | (#501308)

I find it hard to believe that the internet is the cauase for California's power shortages. I read an article about this recently, and was exposed to several other causes for decreasing power surpluses.

1) Little change in capable output: Over the last twenty or thirty years the U.S. has done very little to increase the technology used in producing electric power, therefore stifling our ability to compete with the growing demands for electric power.

2) The HUGE increase in high amp appliances. From toatsters, microwaves, washers, dryers, things that nearly every household now has. Its a safe guess that in the last twenty years our average household demand for electricity has risen dramatically. Not inlcuding the internet.

I don't think that our little low power computers, even in great numbers, have much, if anything, to do with California's,(or anywhere else for that matter) power failures.

It's all about the Benjamens, baybee... (5)

Bonker (243350) | more than 13 years ago | (#501310)

Man, I have never heard such a load of concocted bullshit in all my life. 'The Tech Industry' is responsible for overloading 19th Century era electic lines, as stated in the article.


What the hell were all the SoCal electric companies doing when the rest of the world was busy upgrading their infrastructure over the last 10 years to cope with the technology boom? Here, in Pissant Amarillo, TX, *all* the utilities have slowly been upgrading their infrastructure. Both SWB and Cox Cable have been putting in fibre lines. SPS Electric has been slowly upgrading their capacity, both in terms of generators, lines and high-tension poles.

At *some* point, deregulation or no, the SoCal power companies made the decision that upgrading infrastructure would not look good on the bottom line. Rather than use half a coked-up brain cell to figure out that the industry was growing fast and they needed to keep up with it to stay profitable in the future, some power executive chose profit *now* rather than survival *later*.

This is so damn typical...

There is plenty of blame to go around (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#501318)

Pete Wilson and friends for thinking the power companies could stay in business with price caps on what they could charge but not on what they paid.

The power producers jacking prices to the sky.

The consumers thinking electricity is some kind of right.

Wanna solve CA's problem in a hurry? Lift the price caps on the power companies so their rates go through the roof to keep the power on (ie the power company doesn't go bankrupt) or better yet, let the power companies go bankrupt so they turn of ALL the power. See how fast change happens.

Yes - you should conserve. System standby, CF light bulbs, better insulation. But blaming the Internet. HAHAHAHA

Huge Percentage? (2)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#501320)

"Some analysts, bolstered by a study declaring that the Internet is responsible for fully 8 percent of all national electricity consumption, assert that the Net itself is responsible for spiking demand to unprecedented heights. The new economy, it seems, is an energy hog. Never mind that other researchers have debunked the 8 percent figure as absurdly inflated. President-elect George W. Bush has already touted it in discussing his energy policy. What better reason could there be to allow oil drilling and coal mining in virgin wildernesses than the need to keep the Net running?" So we have at worst 8 percent since when does that count as a huge percentage. I mean come on people we could increase 8 percent with just a couple of reactors. Get with the program.

Re:What a bunch of crap (5)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 13 years ago | (#501325)

Yes in this case blaming deregulation is probably correct because it was done in a brain dead fashion that means that the power companies have to sell electricity for a fixed price while buying it on an open market.

And Conservation is at least *PART* of the answer. Yes more plants are needed but if we could reduce the rate at which they are needed by 2% it would help a hell of a lot.

And face it a room full of servers use a lot of power.

The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

It is the consumers fault, not the net (4)

joshamania (32599) | more than 13 years ago | (#501329)

Having just moved away from California (and thank gawd!), I was able to see a lot of local news shows and newspapers about the power crisis. There's a lot of fingerpointing going on, except all in the wrong direction.

The public is unwilling to realize that they are the problem. I saw a city of San Diego official come on TV last summer and tell her constituents only to "pay what is fair". I don't think I have ever seen such an irresponsible act from any public official ever (in my short and naive 26 years). What does she think? Is the electricity fairy going to come down from heaven and make everything right?

I happened to catch a bit on CNBC (financial television channel) yesterday about the stage three emergency delclared by either the state or Southern California Edison (power company). The reporter said that the emergency was declared for financial reasons and not because there is an actual shortage of supply. SoCalEd also is putting off making an interest payment on a bond they have outstanding (read: that doesn't happen unless the company is in trouble).

Californians think they can just have the power companies bail them out until the current crisis is over. Well, it will never be over, because the power companies can not make any money, because the citizens won't let them make any money. So, thus, SoCalEd cannot afford to increase production, build power plants, etc.

Not only that, no one wants to get into the market there, because they cannot make any money. So then there's not competition.

And now they're all screaming that the power companies are taking advantage of the "high fuel prices" to make a quick buck off of the public.

All I can say to California. You reap what you sow...

Re: A/C (2)

AstynaxX (217139) | more than 13 years ago | (#501334)

In order to deathmatch year round, one would need a climate controled environment, since modern microprocessors are rather hot little beasts. Even one of the Kryotech boxes [and I've seen one up close and personal] would be very unhappy at a room temp of 90+ degrees Farenheit[sp?].

BTW, I don't support the article's assertion that the net is the cause of Cali's near power collapse, I'm just pointing out the flaw in this one arguement.


Re:not the net (2)

n3rd (111397) | more than 13 years ago | (#501336)

I have a question for you jjlaw: Prices in California may have changed due to deregulation, so how do increased prices create a power shortage?

I don't beleive an increase in prices would lead to greater consumption.

Sooner than you might think (1)

smooc (59753) | more than 13 years ago | (#501338)

This was all over the news channels here in the Netherlands and they actually stated that might happen here too.

As you might know in Europe (except for England) the power coporations are owned by the the government. At the moment there is a excess rate of about 30%, meaning that there is 30% too much power. But now even (it-)companies in Amsterdam have difficulty getting power and more and more are deciding for co-location outside of the city

Privatisation is scheduled for the power companies, who knows what is going to happen then as 30% excess is not efficient

In my opinion we will get there a lot sooner than we think, and we should actually think about making our devices use less energy. Not just our computers, but also routers and air-conditioners(!!!) etc.

- Bolke

It's called pricecaps... (1)

spoonless (222765) | more than 13 years ago | (#501341)

The reason they're having blackouts is no
mystery. It's Econ 101 guys:

Demand high, supply low. What does that mean
for the fair market price? High. What does
the government do? Put price caps ridiculously
low. What happens? Everything has to shut down,
the only expected solution that can happen.
Take out the stops and everything will be fine again.

The only other partial reason for it is the strict polution limits set. They can't operate without exceeding their quotas so they are shutting down for that reason as well. This is more of a tough problem than the pricecaps, because they can't just open it up to "pollute all you want, guys" but they can't just keep everyone in the dark either.

Re:Huge Percentage? (2)

joshamania (32599) | more than 13 years ago | (#501358)

Ah, yes we could, but the rest of this country is to chickenshit to build reactors anymore. Never mind the fact that coal-fired and oil-fired plants are infinitely more dirty...

Nafta is the problem... not the net. (1)

esobofh (138133) | more than 13 years ago | (#501359)

Because of agreements made between the US and Canada regulating the price of canadian generated electricity sold to the US, california has closed 9 of their power plants. It is cheaper for them to exploit these trade agreements then it is to keep their own power plant operations going. This sees Canada and it's citizens taking it up the ass - it's no wonder that mexico wants NAFTA re-drafted. Canada should not stand for this nonsense. The price of electricty has doubled in the last six months in Canada because of the demand the US is putting on our resources. The agreement states that we cannot charge the US more for electricity than we charge our own citizens. That is just BULLSHIT. As a result we all suffer because California and the like are having a below average temperature this winter.


Totally Bogus (2)

Artagel (114272) | more than 13 years ago | (#501362)

Better information has allowed warehouse districts to turn into lofts. It used to be that lots of goods would sit around in the delivery pipeline waiting, and waiting. That old-fashioned "carrying cost" toasted a lot of energy keeping things warm, lit, guarded, etc.

As the article points out, there is not a dramatic demand increase. Rather, the cause is modest increases of demand with ZERO increase in supply, and no incentive to build.

I think that the cause of the problem is the old story of politicians creating a state where nobody in their right mind would want to build a power plant. The new economy had nothing to do with that.

Re:What a bunch of crap (2)

levik (52444) | more than 13 years ago | (#501368)

You make a good point, but then building new powerplants has been problematic as well... Everyone agrees they are needed, but noone can quite agree where to build them.

The same people that are adamant about how something needs to be done about the power shortage, are just as verbal on the topic of not wanting a powerplant in their back yard. Or anywhere in their general vicinity for that matter.

As far as I am aware, a number of initiatives have been subdued by activists lobbying for plants to be built somwhere else. And, just like in that Simpsons episode about the bear tax, everyone is finding an easy target for the blame, be it the government, the power companies or the geeks.

Yes, it's "Blame the Internet for $foo" time. . . (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 13 years ago | (#501372)

It wasn't too long ago that the Net was being blamed for phone congestion in Silicon Valley. Not to mention violence in schools, pornography addiction, personal disconnects, and class division.

Hmm.... is Katz writing this ??? Nevermind....

Still it tells us that The Net has arrived into the mainstream. We can now be blamed as the root of all problems, just like the Rich, the Republicans (or party of your choice, if you're not USAian. . .), or Dead White Males. . .

You can't paint a bullseye big enough... (2)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#501377)

...for the Internet these days. Is there a social issue or cause left that hasn't blamed the Internet for something?

Of course, it is a big, easy target for blame. There's no one company behind it, pretty much everyone uses it in some form, so everyone has to share the blame. And most importantly, you can't really consider shutting it down as a solution.

When people start bitching about the Internet causing Problem X, they're not looking for solutions to the problem, they're just looking to shift blame from themselves, to make themselves feel better. Whether it's politicians taking the Stance-O-The-Day, or parents wanting to know why Junior doesn't listen to them, the results are the same.

Re:Hmm (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#501378)

"An A/C ... is going to use 4 kw, which is 2880kwh/month"

I always knew Anonymous Cowards were a major environmental problem!

Re:Certainly not the net! (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#501380)

2) The HUGE increase in high amp appliances. From toatsters, microwaves, washers, dryers, things that nearly every household now has. Its a safe guess that in the last twenty years our average household demand for electricity has risen dramatically. Not inlcuding the internet.

No doubt. I'm amazed at how even small houses today have 200Amp service. We're getting ready to remodel our home and it will likely have 400Amp service. Granted the home is close to 3000 sq ft, but still. Between appliances, computers (desktops and servers), 2 HVAC systems, the PBX :), the hottub, and the detached garage - you go through a lot of capacity in a hurry :)

But saying conservation is not the answer is a cop-out. Will it solve everything? Hell no. But every little bit helps. It amazes me how many friends and neighbors don't even know what EnergyStar or system standby even is. (or firewalls for that matter)

Everyone Affected (1)

UnifiedTechs (100743) | more than 13 years ago | (#501394)

I think Everyone is going to be affected sooner then you think, as power prices rise here in California it is going to raise the price of production for all those snazzy electronic gizmos produced here... and that cost is going to be passed on to you the consumers. Unless something is done soon to lower costs EVERYONE will pay. And this counts for all those dotcom stores based here too.

Re:The Net will save power...does it? (1)

smooc (59753) | more than 13 years ago | (#501398)

  • But you didn't leave your engine running the whole time
  • And everytime you wanted to look (listen?) at that porn again, you didn't start your car


Kill two birds with one stone (1)

Prince of Jupiter (303015) | more than 13 years ago | (#501400)

..Make Californians ride bicycles with generators and batteries to work. When they get to work, hook the battery up to their workstation to power it. You've helped generate electricity, reduced pollution, *and* provided a health benefit!

Alternately, they could just steal a neighbor's car battery and use it. Same net effect: power and one less car.

Interstingly enough... (4)

American AC in Paris (230456) | more than 13 years ago | (#501402)

The article cites several times that the overall increase in energy consumption was lower in the late 1990's than it was in the 1980's. The article also mentions that a small army of independant researchers have blasted the notion that the 'net is responsible for some 8% of national power consumption. If the Internet becomes the Scapegoat du Jour for California's embarrasing little energy crisis, it'll be quite the win for the forces of FUD.

information wants to be expensive...nothing is so valuable as the right information at the right time.

Re:It's all about the Benjamens, baybee... (2)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 13 years ago | (#501404)

I was nodding my head all the way with you, until that last line, "This is so damn typical...".

Uhm, but wasn't the whole point of your post to show that the "coked up" exec in charge of the power infrastructure in CA was Atypical? I mean, it's not like the rest of the US is experiencing rolling blackouts and such.

So this is typical compared to what?


The Net does suck up all the power (2)

SupahVee (146778) | more than 13 years ago | (#501405)

Intel has already released a statement that they are not going to be expanding in CA anymore, due to the power restrictions there, they plan tol build their next plant here in good ol' Arizona.

California is headed for something big, they just dont see it yet. They know they have to build more plants, and there are plans to do so, but those take years to build.

Expect CA to go into a mild to moderate recession of its own over the next 3-5 years, as businesses move out to get more power.

Deregulation (1)

dago (25724) | more than 13 years ago | (#501408)

A side effect of the deregulation is that private companies cut down costs on various things. Of course they build less power plants but there is also a major problem with the network itself.

Of course, maintenance and building of new lines is one big consequence but another is interconnection.
It is a known fact that the US of A electrical network is much less interconnected than other (developped) countries. As said in a seminar earlier this (academic) year, it now has the same characteristics that third world networks have. If I remember well, west coast and east coast are not even interconnected correctly.

FYI, interconnection of networks provides a reserve of regulation (frequency-power, ...) and so more interconnection = more stability. This is why all european networks are interconnected, from Portugal to Finland.

Another example of deregulation who failed :
- British rail (people died because of cost-cuts)
- Network Solutions (domain name something)


Yeah, it's the net... (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#501410)

And not, say, deregulation of the industry with price caps plus a natural gas shortage which makes it impossible to buy power for less than they're selling it for out there. Or the fact that since their customers have power bills that don't reflect true market prices, they have no incentive to conserve power. Or the fact that Edison International will run out of cash Feb. 2 unless they get 2 billion dollars of immediate funding. Funding they can't get since Standards and Poor has reduced their credit rating to junk bond status, and California law forbids tax increases so they can't fund 'em that way.

California's been getting a free lunch at the expense of the rest of the country and now they're getting the bill. And they could drag us all into a depression because of it. Somehow I can't feel pity.

BZZZT! Nice try though (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 13 years ago | (#501412)

What really happened in California was deregulation of demand, but no deregulation of supply. Prices were allowed to fluctuate, but you still couldn't bring new plants online.

Amazingly, even in the midst of this crisis, they are blocking the proposed power generation center south of San Jose (right where it is neede most) because of environmental concerns. Yup, thats right kids, even as we speak it is as impossible as ever to build new generators in California. Out-of-state suppliers are licking their chops - they've got at least three or four more years of gouging to do before the citizens of California become incensed and turn their wrath on environmental groups. Its too bad - I generally consider myself an environmentalist, but in this case they're building up some negative karma with the general public that will take a decade or more to repair.

Re:It is the consumers fault, not the net (2)

AstynaxX (217139) | more than 13 years ago | (#501413)

Hmm, if I were a pol with half a soul left [rare these days] I'd tell my constituents the same thing, and not just for power. The powers that be seem largely content to let the public get ripped off left and right by greedy corps who have them between a rock and a hard place, to me its a GOOD thing to see one willing to smack them down. In case you missed it, the time this statement was made, power prices in Cali rose by about 300% in 3 months, which is absolutely insane. Wouldn't you be a bit peeved, and perhaps inclined to protest by lack of payment, if any bill decided to increase by 3x for the same usage?


Re:The Net will save power...does it? (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 13 years ago | (#501426)

...not to mention people overclock, causing cpu power to rise exponentially. This is so they can watch porn faster.

Re:What a bunch of crap (1)

stilwebm (129567) | more than 13 years ago | (#501431)

Conservation IS part of the answer. The reason there is such a shortage of electricity is quite simple economics. There are fixed prices that electricity must be sold at, yet it is bought by those utility companies at unprofitable prices. Supply is far exceeded by demand, because the price of electricity is lower than its actual value to customers. Electricity in California is far cheaper than most European countries, for example. You will notice that flourescent lights have replaced incadescents in Europe, for example. Why not do that in California? Because the price of electricity is cheap enough that there is not much incentive to conserve. On the other hand, if utilities were able to buy power at cheaper prices, they too would be able to buy more energy to supply customers. But since they cannot, they are forced to buy as much as they can afford, and force conservation on customers to prevent an unplanned blackout.

Re:Hmm (1)

UnifiedTechs (100743) | more than 13 years ago | (#501433)

Actually in the 2 years I've lived in california I've noticed an extreme LACK of AC units in homes. And a large amount of heaters are gas operated not electrical. And I live in Silicon Valley if your curious.

Some figures (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#501434)

Here is something from the article, for those who don't have time to plough through it:
Mark Mills and Peter Huber are the Chicken Littles of the debate over electricity and the Internet. The two conservative analysts publish the Digital Power Report and have testified about the increased demand for electricity occasioned by the Net everywhere from the pages of Forbes and the Wall Street Journal to a congressional regulatory subcommittee. A year and a half ago, Mills published a report for the Greening Earth Society, a nonprofit backed by coal interests, asserting that by 1998 the Internet was already consuming about 8 percent of U.S. electricity and that the entire "digital economy" accounted for fully 13 percent. Moreover, he forecasted that in the next 20 years the Internet -- "directly and indirectly" -- would come to consume 30 to 50 percent of all electricity in the country.

So what's the explanation for Mills and Huber's 8 percent figure? "If the claims that they're making are true, you'd expect to see vast increases in electricity demand and you are not," says Koomey. Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley have refuted Mills and Huber's assertions point by point, based on their own research. They put the figure for all office, telecommunications and networking equipment at 3 percent of the total electricity used in the United States.

It comes down to a war of watts. For example, Mills and Huber argue that after factoring in all the networking and telecommunications equipment required on the back end, like routers and servers, a PC and its peripherals connected to the Net use 1,000 watts of power, which is as much the electricity used by 10 100-watt light bulbs. But Koomey and his group think that figure is wildly exaggerated. Koomey says that a PC consumes only 50 to 200 watts and that factoring in the back-end equipment adds only about 15 watts to the PC's electricity consumption.

Mills and Huber also assert that a Palm Pilot that is plugged into the Net consumes as much energy as a refrigerator -- a nice sound bite that has been widely quoted. But is it true? Koomey says he sent an e-mail to Mills requesting documentation: "I am trying to reproduce your estimate about the electricity use of a Palm Pilot equaling that of a refrigerator, because of the network electricity use. Is there a place where this calculation is documented?" Koomey says he repeated this collegial request eight times over two months, but got no response.

sounds like someone is trying to make money by trolling the society to me

The end of Pwer woes (1)

wackysootroom (243310) | more than 13 years ago | (#501438)

The only real and permanent solution to our power woes is to cut our independence from the power companies by using other sources of power. It is very possible for a household to be completely reliant on alternative energy sources. That would free up the power companies to better serve businesses and other consumers of mass quantities of power. The power companies are keeping us in the 1950s by fooling us (the average american family) into thinking that we need thier power. Now that the internet is in full swing, they can't keep the supply/demand ratio balanced. This problem will continue to grow as technology expands unless we, the consumer seek out alternative power sources.

Re:What a bunch of crap (1)

FigWig (10981) | more than 13 years ago | (#501439)

Actually a bunch of power plants are inactive, due to environmental regulations. I heard from one source that only 1/3 of the power plants in CA were up and running. Another problem is crappy infrastructure linking to other states. If there were better power lines to other states it would be easier to buy and sell large amounts of power. Unfortunately the CA utils continue to sell power when there is a slight surplus, only to repurchase power later in the day at a higher rate.

Altogether the situation is a complete SNAFU, but I have always had power (too bad no days off work!)

Monkeys (1)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 13 years ago | (#501459)

Put lots of monkeys onto lots of bikes and Ta Da!! We have power!! And the scientists can pretend that they're doing research at the same time. Now of course there are issuse, like we need certain monkeys simply to breed otherwise they all may die of exhaustion. But hey, we could be doing the species a favour, only the strong will survive and propogate... then... Planet of the Apes!!! Woo Hoo!!!


Cardinal Biggles (6685) | more than 13 years ago | (#501462)

Jeez.. talk about far-fetched...

I have a theory too: if we didn't have closed-source operating systems dominating the market (read: Micros~1 Windows) we wouldn't be so dependent on the x86 CPU architecture.

If could just recompile and go on a new CPU, all the stupidity from the past could be cleaned up.

And if CPU's wouldn't need all that bloat they'd use a LOT less power. And run faster, too.

So you see, if you think hard enough everything can be blamed on Micros~1.

This will create more jobs! (1)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 13 years ago | (#501464)

The high-tech companies will hire unskilled labor at 4x minumum wage to pedal bicycles to power the servers, thus bringing more people into CA, thus causing a higher usage of electricity, thus requiring more pedal-power people to come in...

Aw, screw it, just build some more power plants.

Re:not the net (1)

Cy Guy (56083) | more than 13 years ago | (#501468)

(User #111397 Info)
I have a question for you jjlaw: Prices in California may have changed due to deregulation, so how do increased prices create a power shortage?

Not increased prices, but increasing prices.

If you can take some of your production off-line now, with the promise that you will get paid more for it later, then that is what you will do if you area for-profit company. The areas of CA served by municipal utilities that have their own plants haven't been experiencing the shortage that the customers served by de-regulated for-profit companies have seen.

Not in the article... (2)

laborit (90558) | more than 13 years ago | (#501470)

Salon's blurb for the article reads
Is the global computer network to blame for the current electricity crisis? Lackeys for the power industry want us to think so.
and nowhere in the text do they bring up a single claim of the computer-energy-crisis people without refuting it and pointing a finger at self-serving lobbyists. So where is Taco's unhappy commentary coming from? The point of Salon's discussion is that the net doesn't "consume a huge portion of the nation's electricity," and all the atricle's "good points" go towards demonstrating that!

Go ahead, blame me... I voted for Nader!

Re:Huge Percentage? (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#501473)

There has been a huge stink down here in North Carolina related to nuclear. The local power company wants to store tons of spent fuel rods in a storage facility here. They already do but want to like triple the capacity. Some worry that a catasrophic event could occur if cooling failed, etc. Others say its no big deal. They both have valid points.

I personally think nuclear is a technology that has to be used right now. I'd love to see fuel cells and residential microturbines that generate all my homes power and heat the water too! But thta's years away.

That said, I drive by CP&Ls nuclear plant frequently when visiting a friend. Its off in the woods away from dense population. Its dark out there at night and its always a little disconcerting driving right by it, past all the warning sirens and "What to do in case of emergency' signs. Worse - they use Mecury Vapor lights which always seem to make the plant area glow blue above the woods. Not a comforting sight!

Re:You neglect the geeky solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#501474)

Really, mine has a 300 horsepower diesel engine and a six speed transmission.

Amen, classic economics at work (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 13 years ago | (#501475)

Lets see, when we deregulate demand for power by letting prices fluctuate, but keep the supply of power fixed, I wonder what direction those prices will go?

Some basic economics at work in California right now, and no one wants to come clean and admit that they fudged royally by not bringing excess capactiy online before deregulating prices.

Forget all this "cartel" shit being tossed about - power companies are just following the price up the supply curve, just as the regulators allowed them to do.

The real problem is Energy Star & Microsoft (4)

the real jeezus (246969) | more than 13 years ago | (#501477)

Okay, about six years ago the Clinton administration came up with this irie Energy Star rating that is given to products with low-power mode capabilities. It seems that computers everywhere, especially in California, would switch their monitors (which consume 200 - 500 watts) into low power mode after a reasonable period of idleness. Take a few hundred watts per household, plus many thousands of watts per office, and there's a large amount of power wasted on keeping picture tubes warm.

However, the makers of the most popular consumer operating system in the world (and that's not an endorsement) do not have the low-power mode enabled by default; therefore, only true nerds and relatives/friends/s.o.'s of said nerds have their low-power monitor setting enabled!

Think about it--no one (but nerds, etc...) explores MS's non-default options. Look at the proliferation of j03 5cr1p7 k17713 who takes advantage of the enabled-by-default Windows Scripting Host and wreaks havoc across the internet.

The Energy Star thing is an example of a great idea that suffered from poor implementation. I see that the solution is to integrate the setting into the monitor and leave it on by default.

I'd rather be a unix freak than a freaky eunuch

Re:It is the consumers fault, not the net (2)

AstynaxX (217139) | more than 13 years ago | (#501478)

And so we have the typical chain link problem:
"Its not my fault, its the guy one level back, he screwed me, so i have no choice but to pass the pain down the chain"
Where does it stop? why is the normal American[or German, or Briton, or anyone who has been screwed lately on energy costs] the one who always has to eat it?
And a better question, for which I have a potential answer, is where did it start? My theory: [the PC police can stop reading now, lest I must smite you for flaming me endlessly] The arabs [well, the ones running the show, not most of their common citizens]. Who, after all, is responsible for rasing the cost of the fossil fuels we commonly use to produce most of our power? [mind you, they COULD increase the supply to lower cost, but they REALLY REALLY want those golden toilets in EVERY bathroom]

It has to stop. We have to stop bending over and believing that whatever price some shmuck slaps onto an item is the real and legitmate price. Most of the time, it is not.


Environmentalist laws are the problem (2)

Phaid (938) | more than 13 years ago | (#501480)

One of the best bits of the article talks about how building a new power plant in California is about as easy as getting venture capital for an e-business in 2001. This is true. And it's a large part of the problem.

Everybody complains that power is too expensive, yet nobody ever wants a power plant "in their back yard". This goes ten-fold for nuclear plants, which, really, would be a lot better solution than the current natural gas ones that are generating most of the power out west.

"California Power Crisis in a Nutshell" (1)

donkeyboy (191279) | more than 13 years ago | (#501481)

The price for consumers didn't increase since a cap was placed on retail prices. But the wholesale prices that the power company pays the other "generators" was not capped. Many of the suppliers are limiting production of power in order to increase demand, and along with it price. The wholesale price for electricity has gone up tenfold in many places. So... The price the power companies charge stays the same, and the price the power companies buy power for increases. Many places are selling power for a loss right now. On top of that, the power companies are becoming more and more afraid that they'll never get paid for the power they share. So what do you do... Stop sharing power. So, what do you get? A half assed attempt to deregulate power.

No, the government is responsible. (2)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#501482)

The government put the utilities in an impossible position as part of their "deregulation." They fixed the price they could sell at, while allowing the price they buy at to float. Then they shut down SIX power plants. Then demand went up. Hmmm... decreasing supply and increasing demand; let me check ny Econ 101 book. Says here that price will go up. And it did, for the utilities! So they were put into a position of losing money, since they were mandated by law to sell power to anyone who wants it at a fixed price below the market price.

- - - - -

Re:"Huge Percentage"? (3)

mrfiddlehead (129279) | more than 13 years ago | (#501483)

Besides which the author of the salon article goes to fairly great lengths to show that the 8% claim is a load of horsehooey (sp?). The guys who came up with that figure guestimated that the average network computer consumes 1000W of power when all the routers/switches and servers are figured into the equation.

What's the average power consumption of a computer on a network? Assuming that it's always on and that it is configured to use its power saving features one can probably assume that it consumes on average about 166W (back of the envelope calculation for 8 hours of usage per day - 500W * 8/24 = 166W). That's well below 1000W. I don't claim that these figures are anything more than guestimates but I think my figures are less than conservative.

What's the power consumption of a 48 port cisco network switch? I have some cisco 3548 XL switches that consume about 150W (AFAIR) so that means we add 3W per workstation to the power cost.

If we assume that the per workstation power consumption cost decreases the further we get from the workstation, on the network, then we can probably more safely arrive at an average networked power consumption of 350 to 400 Watts.

These guys Mills and Huber (Hubris?) are suits. Their only agenda is finding a scapegoat so that the politicians will agree to build more power plants. Either that or they're just lackwits.

Wait a minute... (1)

phenym (103717) | more than 13 years ago | (#501484)

... do you mean to tell me that it actually costs MONEY to run the net? So much for 'FREE' speech.

-- Phenym

Re:"Huge Percentage"? (2)

jamiemccarthy (4847) | more than 13 years ago | (#501485)

"How about some numbers?"

Near the end of the article, it makes clear that the rise of the internet and the information economy has actually reduced power consumption:

"between 1987 and 1990, electricity consumption grew 3.3 percent a year ... from 1992 to 1996 total energy demand grew at about 2.4 percent a year in the U.S., during a period when the gross domestic product was growing at a rate of 3.2 percent a year. But from 1996 to 2000, when the Net boom was really taking off, the gross domestic product grew at an average of 4 percent a year while energy demand grew at a rate of only 1 percent."

Years GDP Growth Energy Growth
1987-1990 ? 3.3%
1992-1996 3.2% 2.4%
1996-2000 4.0% 1.0%

Jamie McCarthy

Re:What a bunch of crap (2)

ArtPepper (106669) | more than 13 years ago | (#501503)

The problem is not a lack of power. The problem is the way that the politicians deregulated the electric industry in California. The problem is that one of the main suppliers in California yesterday defaulted on paying for approximately $500 million in electricity they purchased, even though they over $1 billion in their coffers. The problem is that they have now been downgraded to junk bond status because of their default.

The problem was caused the way the deregulation was structured by the politicians. They planned to cap the pricing to consumers, while letting the wholesale price fluctuate. The "thinking" at the time was that the wholesale price would decrease under deregulation, thus their profits would go up.

No one envisioned that the whole price would increase (due to natural gas price increases) to a point where they were selling at less than the cost of producing.

Sorry, but technology isn't the answer this time. Oh, and yes, the pie is limited. Conservation is not THE answer, but it is a PART of the answer.

Luddite thinking (1)

gwjc (181552) | more than 13 years ago | (#501504)

Great, Bush Jr gets into the whitehouse and believes firmly that the scientists and nerds are stealing all the electricity.
A Palm consumes as much E as a fridge.. give me a break.. I'd love to see their calcs on how much E went into a can of coke or a phonecall.. Oh well helps set the tone for the next four years.. we'll get lots more of those famous republican bizarro concepts, "Just say no", Star Wars, "thousand tiny points of light", etc.

Re:It is the consumers fault, not the net (2)

joshamania (32599) | more than 13 years ago | (#501507)

I was a bit peeved. I was paying over $100 USD a month to cool a 700 square foot apartment enough so that my dogs wouldn't overheat. BUT, that does not justify the extremely backward looking statements made by the City of San Diego. The records and financial information of public (now private?) utilities are in the public domain. She could have looked at reports filed with the SEC to see if the power company was really ripping off the public.

Had it actually been the truth, then I wouldn't have been so upset, but it was not the truth. I hate that word truth...let's say fact. Had it been a fact that SoCalEd was ripping off their consumers, I would have not been upset. But what had been the case was that oil and natural gas prices quadrupled and the public is expecting the government/SoCalEd to bail them out.

Hey, SoCalEd, while you are paying for my air conditioning, why don't you fill up my car with gas as well. I mean, as long as us public can vote ourselves bread and circuses...why the hell not? (read: sarcasm, al la Heinlein)

Re:Everyone Affected (1)

Mantrid (250133) | more than 13 years ago | (#501510)

Nah then companies will just start moving production elsewhere - Asia, perhaps. Heck we build some stuff up here in Canada. I'm not sure why everyone all has to be in Silicon Valley anyways for high tech - i mean think about it, there's very little reason to concentrate businesses in one area with some many communication options open. I'm sure the costs involved in shipping would pale in comparison to the horrid costs of trying to operate in Silicon Valley!

Re:Hmm (1)

scotteparte (240046) | more than 13 years ago | (#501511)

Okay, kiddies, here's the lesson today: Economics is defined as "The study of systems for distributing a limited number of goods among an unlimited desire for those goods."

You hear that? Limited goods, unlimited wants. If I want a hoversuit, and a company wants to sell me a hoversuit, the deal still doesn't go through because there aren't any. More relevant, if I want a Phish ticket, and Ticketmaster wants to sell me a ticket, I still don't get one because those damn Phish-heads always beat me to the punch with their mail-in orders.

The point is that CA is having power supply problems, and power wholesalers refuse to cut rates. This is what happens when a monopoly is in control: higher price, lower quantity, more profit.

Offline power plants (2)

flieghund (31725) | more than 13 years ago | (#501512)

A relative of mine works for a muni power company up in the Northwest. Since I live in California, I was talking to him about the whole "power crisis" thing.

It turns out that most power generation facilities must be shut down periodically for maintenance. This is a necessary thing -- if you don't do it, the plant blows up, melts down, starts polluting (more than usual, that is ;-), etc.

Last summer (2000), there was a huge surge in the power consumption in California. Since the generators here couldn't provide the necessary power, the utilities went looking elsewhere. The high demand of power led several major generators, both in California and other states, to delay the regularly scheduled maintenance until the winter (now). The rationale was that winter power consumption tends to be much lower than summer consumption.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of poor planning involved: these days, both delayed and regularly scheduled plant closures are in effect. I'm not sure why no one thought of this at the time (last summer) -- perhaps the assumption was that more power plants would be brought online by now? I know there are several in California that are scheduled to begin operations this summer (2001)... not that that helps us now. Compounding the problem are the recent storms along the California coastline: the increased surf has interfered with water intakes of several coastal generating facilities, hampering their ability to produce power.

My recommendation is to get yourself an Uninteruptible Power Supply. I like the APC Back-UPS Pro 500. You can only "interact" with it if you have Windows 98 or MacOS and free (non-hub) USB port... but if you don't mind it being "dumb," it makes a great deal at less than $150 for 500 VA. Plus, it has four powered outlets, plus three surge. It provides me (PII/400, external zip, 17" monitor, cable modem) with 18 minutes of power...

Re:Certainly not the net! (1)

Lede Singer (253091) | more than 13 years ago | (#501513)

The only way that the internet has hurt the general power supply is that it has made enough people rich (not me) and even more people so lazy (ME!) that they have to purchase machines to do everything possible so they can to do as little as possible.

Between Doom, Wolf 3-d, Quake, and Warcraft I about shut down as a functioning human!

Re:What a bunch of crap (2)

kbs (70631) | more than 13 years ago | (#501514)

The government screwed it up in pushing for deregulation in the first place. This was one area in which some oversight is necessary to ensure that supply meets demand completely, as opposed to the normal conventional economic stance that there's the "balance" that consumers are willing and able to pay.

It can be argued that allowing the rates of consumers to rise dramatically would be a very good way to get people to conserve, and I normally would be a proponent of that. However, energy is sometimes not one of those flexible commodities in which one can decide to use or not use (during inclement weather conditions), and it is due to this that it's a rather harsh "flat (as in amount, not rate) tax" on the poorer populations.

>> And no, conservation is not the answer. Not in the past, not now, and never will be.

Conservation is a part of the solution, but only a slow long-term (read: 50-100 years) one. First and foremost, it's an attitude adjustment that indeed the pie *is* limited. Sorry, dude, there's just not an infinite amount of coal on this earth.

But a short term solution is still needed. Building more power plants (at what would normally be considered unwise cost/benefit) would have solved this problem. Be that as it may, I think the worst thing to do at this point is to allow this crisis to wreck the long-term checks to ensure environmental safety, etc. that are in place in California.

The government is only part of the problem. In this case it's the problem because it fell for the propaganda of a special business group.


Re:Person power generators (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#501515)

I really hope that natural gas fed fuel cell generators for residential use pan out. I'd love to be 'off grid' and heat my hot water at the same time. It may be wishful thinking, but who knows what the next 20 years will bring? There are already McDonald's restaurants (HUGE users of electriciy for all that frying) that use their own small generators to power the entire building - using microturbine technology.

The California Power Biz (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 13 years ago | (#501516)

My local power supplier is PG&E. They're crying because their wholesale supplier is charging them too much and they aren't allowed to pass along the increase to the consumer - the result of a sweetheart deal THEY brokered with the State of California. PG&E is threatening bankrupcy.

The wholesale supplier is making record profits out of this mess. The name of that company is PG&E.

What!? Something smells very funny here!

power_storage == power_problem (1)

*weasel (174362) | more than 13 years ago | (#501517)

the primary problem is that there is no efficient way for power providers to 'store up' on power. they can't run a plant just as hard at night, and save up electricity to meet the peek demand - they have to generate at near the level of demand or lose it.(at least alot of it)

as soon as someone wakes up and realizes that battery backups are about the worst way to store energy, maybe we can start to deal with it.

back a while in wired (8.05) there was an article about using flywheels to store energy (story [wired.com] ). and a former aeronautics guy (company [us-flywheel.com] ) who was working on it. (there's also some others link [trinityflywheel.com] , link [beaconpower.com] , and probably others) it was truly fascinating and they claimed energy storage efficiency of many times the level of currently used batteries. (not much of a feat, batteries suck)

Nasa's power and propulsion office was looking to replace the batteries in the ISS with this stuff (story [nasa.gov] ) what ever happened to that crap? and how long will it take power companies to catch on?

perhaps only the lack of competition allows them to point figers instead of solving their problems?

energy shortage? (1)

mach-5 (73873) | more than 13 years ago | (#501518)

I recently did a report on different types of power and their effects on the environment, economy, etc. One of the conclusions I came to in the report was that there would be very little research on alternative power production methods, because there was no market drive (i.e. our current methods are doing fine). Basically, whenever there is a fuel shortage scare, people freak out and goverments go crazy building nukes, hydro, etc. Well, that hasn't happened in awhile.

Basically, I think a power shortage will spark interest in building new plants and doing more power research, not a fuel shortage. It's strange, the energy is there, it exists, but converting it to a usable form (e-) seems to be a problem. Hopefully, the new Bush administration will address this problem.

My solution, more nukes baby! Hey, I live 30 miles from TMI, and I work 5 miles from it, and I'm still fine...I think. At least I don't glow in the dark :-)

Most other states don't need to worry (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 13 years ago | (#501519)

I'm glad I don't live in CA, but how long before it affects the rest of us?

As long as you don't repeat California's mistakes, you don't have much to worry about. Pennsylvania and Texas are deregulating in a way that will assure them plenty of power, for example. CA capped retail rates but let wholesale rates float. It hasn't allowed a new powerplant online in 10 years during a period when demand increased 5-6% per year, so now 15-25% of power comes from out of state, across power lines that are themselves a mess due to 'deregulation'. It forbid utilites to contract for power for long periods and forced them to buy on the day-ahead market. It forces the purchase of power thru a power exchange with oddball bid rules that assure that a much higher than necessary price is paid. And just yesterday I was hearing some environmentalist saying what a lousy job of conservation CA does, and that's all that's needed to keep the lights on. Just learn from our example, let markets work, and you'll be fine. As an example of what can happen, here in San Diego I'm paying 21 cents per KWH, up from 3 a year ago. The next bill I expect to be above 30 cents.

Re:What a bunch of crap (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#501520)

Yes, one of the two biggies (I forget which one) did not make some debt payments this week. It was a smart move. If they had made all the payments they were commited to, they would be totally broke inside of three weeks. I would rather my company have a billion dollars in cash with no credit over having no cash and terrible credit anyway. The thing that really opened my eyes was a story saying that Edison International would in all likelyhood go bankrupt over this thing. That's a damn big company.



British (51765) | more than 13 years ago | (#501521)

And if you think a bit harder, you can blame this on Linux. All that power being used up from Linux zealots just for the braggning right of having the world's longest uptime for their servers, even if the servers they have serve no purpose whatsoever.

I shut down MY machine at the end of the day. Do you? Reminds me of the Domino's Pizza commercial where Bad Andy is getting a backrub, watching TV, and doing about 20 other things involving electricity.

"And Computers will save paper use" (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 13 years ago | (#501522)

Good point

I think computers make people use more power and more paper..

In my experience most people leave there computers running at work 24x7 (not my power...). A few have too. I found old unix users just shut off there monitors..Microsoft could automatically shut off monitors on the NT login screen and set the machine to "sleep" but they don't. That would help a lot.

Also people tend to print a ton of stuff ,more than they need to. I hate reading on the screen as much as the next person but seeing one of my old bosses printing out email to read it made me think a little (If he just printed out really important stuff to file maybe...). I've seem students print out books at school (prompting a limit to printing..) Also faxes (look 2 copies) also out weigh the effect of email (which doesn't really save that much paper...)
And for crying out loud print 2-up.

little effort seems to have been made to reduce this paper use. I've been at a company that litterally had paperless time reporting and paperless pcwares buying stuff. It worked really well. (If your boss was out, it would automatically forward to the next person to
sign digitally..)

Re:What a bunch of crap (3)

AstynaxX (217139) | more than 13 years ago | (#501523)

Conservation is bad for an emconomy my friend. More conservation means less spending, which means less income for companies, which means lower stock prices, etc. As a practicle example:

Say I conserve gas by driving half as much as before, that means roughly half the gas consumption, leading to lost revenue for the gas companies. It also means I am outside my home less, which leads to lsot revenues for any places I might impulse shop [computer stores, video stores, fast food, other restaraunts, clothing stores, book stores, etc, etc.]. Now if hundreds of people do this, that s a serious lowering of consumer spending, which will scare the hell out of Wall St. , and so on.


Re:"Huge Percentage"? (2)

mcramer (7010) | more than 13 years ago | (#501524)

How about some numbers? That kinda bullshit hyperbole is what makes me want to bitch-slap environmentalists these days.

If you took the time to read the article you'd see that the people who need bitch-slapping are the anti-environmentalists. They are the ones who are implying a huge increase in energy demand (that isn't there) and a need for a drastic rollback of environmental regulations to cope with said increase.

What if it's true? (1)

robbway (200983) | more than 13 years ago | (#501540)

If hospital's take 8 percent of all energy in California to operate, should they cut power to hospital's? Should hospital's cut back? The answers are no and not necessarily.

Simply pointing out the energy consumption of an industry is really not the same as pointing out the wasted energy. You can make no assumptions about how much they're wasting based on consumption.

The article appears to be goading the IT industry.


Re:Huge Percentage? (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#501546)

This is true and is at least in part the fault of the coal and oil companies. This is at least part of what my rant is about. We should be looking at real alternatives but instead we are going to go rape Alaska. I'm so proud to be a American....:(

Re:What a bunch of crap (1)

Hellish Psycho Slut (306187) | more than 13 years ago | (#501548)

Deregulation is part of the problem. I don't understand why the government was willing to sit back and watch the power companies fuck up California's power supply, through their idiotic cartels.

Any reasonably responsible government anywhere else in the world would have kicked serious ass, and ordered the incompetents to build more power stations. And whether its against the American way or not for the government to interfere with the private sector is just so much twaddle. Our government should damn well pull its finger out of its ass and start ordering private companies to do its bidding, at least when these companies are the crux of the most econimcally powerful state od the union. It's in the best interests of everyone that they do so.

I'm not saying that government interference is good, or that privatisation is bad. That philosophising crap is for the turds of the world, and is why we are so screwed up anyway. They should just damn well do the right thing, and fuck the whiners!

I Love Leather & Linux.

Comprehensive explanation of CA's power problems (2)

beagle (99378) | more than 13 years ago | (#501549)

There is an excellent article here [civicsandpolitics.com] that describes the issues leading up to California's power problems. I don't know the guy who wrote the article, but he's dead-on. What we have here is an amazingly simple lesson in supply-and-demand economics. Nothing more, nothing less.

Go read this guy's write-up and you'll know what is causing California's power woes.

Uh... (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 13 years ago | (#501551)

Refusal to cut rates has nothing to do with this situation. People want their power...you really think Intel can't afford to pay a bit more so they can have all their lights on? The issue is the available electricity. Cali has used up all it's domestic juice, and now they want out-of-state plants to sell juice at a discount? Fuck that!

Re:"Huge Percentage"? (3)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 13 years ago | (#501552)

How about some numbers? That kinda bullshit hyperbole is what makes me want to bitch-slap environmentalists these days.

That's pretty funny, given that Dubya has jumped on the numbers given to help justify suggesting more drilling and mining in supposedly protected areas.

In any case, it wouldn't take a huge percentage increase over forecasts to cause problems, especially during peak use periods.

Re:It probably does affect you... (1)

gwjc (181552) | more than 13 years ago | (#501553)

I don't totally agree, not in the long term. Those companies will move the bulk of their production out of California, that's all. If Caifornia blames it's "19th century infrastructure" then so be it those companies will take their biz to a place with new infrastructure and lower the cost to the consumers.

Blame Intel! (2)

MouseR (3264) | more than 13 years ago | (#501554)

With those bazillion Pentiums out there, sucking as much watts as they do, it's no wonder CA is running out...

Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.

By the way (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 13 years ago | (#501555)

I forgot to mention: don't get your state into a power crisis and then threaten to condemn and takeover the power generating plants as CA governor Davis has done. That's not exactly the way to get investors to build new ones.

The one bright spot in all this is seeing a state government that's utterly dominated by Democrats deal with a crisis. The Satalinist leanings of some of the proposals are quite breathtaking. And the latest state budget that was passed which assumes continued high growth in the CA economy is nothing short of delusional. The state has just passed a bill that will have it buying the power and then selling it to the utilities. The greens and the corporation-haters are screaming their guts out. They apparently want the utilities to go bankrupt. As theater, you can't beat this. The problem is that the cost of admission is rather high.

California regulated its own crisis (5)

TheSync (5291) | more than 13 years ago | (#501556)

As many posters have noted, the California power problem has far more to do with government regulation of power than of Internet use. In a nutshell, California is the tip of the iceberg, there has been a nationwide slowdown in building large generation plants in the last 20 years, mostly for NIBMY and environmental reasons. Small plants and co-gens have been built, but they are not providing the increase in base power required. See:

The Electricity Blame Game [cato.org]

The Deregulation of the Electricity Industry: A Primer [cato.org]

Congress and Electricity [cato.org]

The last article, written in 1998, suggested that as Congress look at electricity de-regulation, that it NOT follow the Californian model, for these reasons:

The short answer is that politicians rather than market forces designed the restructured California electricity system. Politicians, while paying lip service to deregulation and the magic of the market, could not bring themselves to simply let go of the industry. Reflecting the fear of both consumer activists and electric utilities that real markets would prove disastrous, the California legislature placed constraints on the restructured industry whose net effect was to stifle the very forces necessary to drive down California's utility rates. Consumer choice thus became a meaningless exercise.

Re:The Net does suck up all the power (1)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 13 years ago | (#501557)

Living less than a mile away from Intel's Chandler plants (And having the elephant that lives in the apartment above me working there, but that's a different story), I can say that it isn't electricity here, it's water.
It seems that most desirable (To Intel) places have some sort of problem, whether it be electricity, water, what have you.

It's all seti@home's fault (5)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 13 years ago | (#501558)

I have 5 computers at home, and I used to turn off all but the server and the ip_masq firewall when I wasn't using them. But now I'm in competition with friends to have the most seti@home units completed (2761 so far) so I leave them all on.

Oh well, at least I turn off the monitors.
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