back to article US utilities plot remote switch off

HomePlug, the networking standard for sending data over mains wires, is to implement ZigBee's Smart Energy protocol, allowing utilities to reach out and the thermostat turn down, or up, when power is short. An array of US utility companies is pushing the initiative, which sees HomePlug extending ZigBee Smart Energy to work …

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  1. Solomon Grundy

    What - Am I Understanding Correctly?

    You mean the crazy power company that sends me fecked up bills every two months can now determine what I should be running in my own home? That seems to be what they're saying but that's crap. I'll never let them take me (or my pool pump) alive.

    On another slightly different note - did you all realize that by getting rid of computers and data centers there really wouldn't be a power supply issue to be fixing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I've heard this before

    Supply outstrips demand, and instead of expanding, they start throttling, it's cheaper.

    Where have I heard this before?

    Paris, because I wouldn't throttle her

  3. Nick
    Thumb Up

    Yoda?

    Will they perhaps be employing Yoda to use 'the force'?

    "Reach out and the thermostat turn down, or up, when power is short" you will?

  4. Yorkshirepudding
    Coat

    all your plugs are belong to us

    power not to the people then?

    mines the one with the 13amp plugs in

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or on?

    If I were a utility and was a bit short on the quarterly revenue forecast there would be a temptation to turn all the kettles on for a bit of additional cash.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Thermostat is non-critical?

    If they come to the Canadian Praries for a winter & they'll find out what critical is.

    The coat, because you're going to need it!

  7. Steve

    Turning things off?

    I'd be more worried about them turning things on to push up the bills. They wouldn't have to do it obviously - they could just get your thermostat to wait an extra five minutes before turning off.

  8. Sam

    Title

    Presumably this will be an "opt-in" scheme with incentives? A percentage off your bill?

  9. Tom Silver badge

    $50 to let them turn off our AC

    Toronto Hydro already have a system to take over your central AC. All you get is a one time $50 credit.

    http://www.torontohydro.com/electricsystem/powerwise/peaksaver/index.cfm

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Surely.....

    If they can turn stuff off, they can turn it on? And then send a bill the size of a telephone directory through your door?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    All your Gadgets R belong to us

    Who defines these "non-critical devices"? Utilities, I thought they LIKED selling electricity to us, seems they now want to control and limit it? Very odd state of affairs these days.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    A Solution...

    Real Time Live Market Price data digitally encoded on the mains supply, set each device with priceing priority.

    Problem one, new meters for everyone.

    Problem two, when the price drops everyones water heaters kick in, so immediatly driving the price back up.

    Problem three, your weater temperature becomes proportional to the price of supply.

  13. dodge

    And enter firewalls for your mains power

    I can just see how this will play out... utilities push this remote management tech, consumers get pissed, smartypants electronics dudes develop a little box that sits on the main incomer cable to the distribution board and low-pass filters out anything but 50/60Hz line voltage, cost a few bucks.

    Bye-bye remote device management via powerline - unless utilities can get consumer buy-in by demonstrating cost savings/user benefit -- AND that they won't f*** it up. And since they often can't even reliably get basic billing right ...

    Hell -- will they have to encrypt the signalling on the remote powerline to stop local hackers/crims from monkeying with the neighbourhood's devices for kicks?

    ~R

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What exactly

    do they consider to be non critical? Probably not the same as me, or anyone else.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a new idea

    In some countries (that don't use a/c's as excessively as most of the US does) this has been common practice for decades. For example, disabling washing machines and driers during cooking and lunch time. Usually, electrical power is also cheaper in those areas because they can control their peak usage and don't have to buy from other producers.

  16. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    They can stick this...

    where the sun shineth not!

    I'LL decide how warm / cool I want my house. NO-ONE else.

    When I say "I", I do, of course, mean She Who Must Be Obeyed. (No, not you, Sarah Bee!)

    Thumb/under!

  17. Bucky

    Why won't the kettle work...

    I can just picture the missus jumping to the kettle in the ad break for corrie...a few seconds too late and the power would've spiked. No brew for you.

    She'd think she had worn out another kettle.

    Swan and Tefal will be in on the act too.... 12months and 3 days since first switch on...pzzzzt

    it's a conspiracy I tell thee, a conspiracy! :)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Just wait

    until they turn off the heart-lung machine by mistake!

  19. Schultz
    Flame

    For the polar bears

    Before you guys carry on to defend your god-given right to burn fossil fuels, carry sticks that go boom and wank the wiener, may I remind you of cute little Knut [rbb-online.de/knut]. He and his relatives are unhappy about the melting glaciers / polar ice sheets and would be very obliged if you could reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by a bit.

    One possibility is to turn off the fridge for those pesky 5 minutes of high demand when the lights go on at 7 am. Else the utilities have to stay prepared for the quick little power surges and produce some 20% of energy for the ashtray. Save some 20% energy with virtually no cost by turning of Some Stuff That Takes Time Anyways (tm) in the right moment sounds like an excellent idea to me.

    Maybe the electricity prices might even fall if the utilities save some powerplants. Sign me up, Scotty. And burn, burn, burn all those egoistic prats in the eternal fire of their coal fired power plants!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Power companies == greedy idiots

    Nobody of any intelligence will accept this by their own choice, but try to force it on people and watch the backlash. Meters can be bypassed by someone suitably motivated who knows what they're doing - "you tamper with my gear, I'll tamper with yours, bitch" could apply here. Not condoning anything, just saying that you can only push so hard before some people start pushing back.

    "will they have to encrypt the signalling on the remote powerline to stop local hackers/crims from monkeying with the neighbourhood's devices for kicks?"

    They should, but what's the betting they don't bother or do it half-assed, then make legal threats against anyone who discovers a flaw and tries to disclose it.

    "Utilities, I thought they LIKED selling electricity to us, seems they now want to control and limit it?"

    They've not been investing enough of the profits they make into keeping the infrastructure up-to-date with demand. Now they're at a point where some areas suffer rolling blackouts and brownouts (some parts of California for example) because they can't supply enough power to meet demand at times. God forbid they spend some of their profits on improving capacity and educating consumers about being more energy-smart, because then they'd have to answer to their shareholders.

  21. Andy

    Genius

    Not..... this has far to much potential for problems.

    Imagine power companies making deals with kettle manufacture's to ensure their product gets better usage of the power.

    Imagine if the system is compromised or breaks down, leaving god knows how many people without heating or hot water.

    How about the elderly in wintertime, how is this likely to affect them?

    Energy saving appliances that can be easily switched off or have a manual low power mode would be preferable. This way people have a choice as to what they have.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Oh yeah

    I can see it now...working from home....utility decides I don't need my computer or network stuff to be powered up....kerzzzaapp

  23. Dan
    Gates Horns

    Dynamic Demand...

    There's a similar scheme in the pipeline which doesn't involve the PoCo controlling your devices. It's called Dynamic Demand and basically looks at the frequency of the grid. When it goes up, devices kick in. When it goes down, devices cut out. It's designed for things like fridges and freezer pumps which don't need to be running 100% of the time.

    Would be better than working with someone else saying what you can and can't have on at any time.

    Gates...'cos how many macs would be able to turn on if Microsoft wrote the control software!

  24. Garth
    Stop

    I oppose this standard

    But mainly because ZigBee is one of the most stupid names I've heard in a long time.

  25. Eric

    I'm pretty sure they can already do this...

    My parents are on a plan where the power company can turn off the hot water heater during peak usage, and they get a small credit whenever they do.

  26. Bill Gould
    Gates Halo

    More power to them

    Now if they can just get in my house and hook that up I'll believe it.

  27. CJ

    Old news...

    ... they've been doing this here in South Africa for ages, known as ripple control. The only thing they control is the geyser, though, and I don't think it's through anything nearly as cool and high tech as this.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Schultz

    We've already reduced our "greenhouse" emissions by more than Europe, just by voluntary effort, nothing forced upon us by the gubmint. Just leave us alone, and we really do (mostly) take care of things. However, if they start turning off my water heater, I'm going to turn it back up to 190, so it'll still be hot when I want hot water. Will that save energy, or waste it? Law of Unintended Consequences.

  29. Kevin Kitts
    Flame

    So...

    the electric companies want to murder senior citizens, do they? I mean, if there's a power crisis in the middle of winter, and they need to turn down everyone's thermostats, well, if a few senior citizens get sick and die, well, who cares?

    Please, people. I pay for power. What I do with it is my damn business. If I want to sit in a hot shower for over an hour, then dammit, I will. Screw anyone who says otherwise.

    I do have a solution to this. Gasoline electric generators. Go off the network, increase global warming, and get these assholes out of our business. Maybe then they'll keep their noses where they belong.

  30. JJS
    Thumb Up

    Already in place here

    The local energy racket in Wisconsin has a program in place already that you agree to let them cycle your AC during peak demand and they'll give you a bill credit. The credit is based on how much down-time you agree to and they give it to you regardless of it they actually turn off your AC.

    http://www.we-energies.com/residential/acctoptions/epartners.htm

    The offer seems pretty reasonable but I'm one of those types that wants it cold on-demand so I probably wouldn't sign up for it. Allowing them to control my heating and water heater is definitely not something I'd go for though.

  31. daniel Silver badge
    Stop

    @Schultz

    Looks like you have not read this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/15/goddard_arctic_ice_mystery/

    Seems like that ice is not going away as fast as Knut thought it was...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Has nobody thought of the privacy angle?

    Naturally it will work both ways - every devices logs its turn on/off times along with its unique device ID back out along the mains wires, for the CIA / MI5 / council snoops to collect.

  33. Mark

    re: So...

    Why would you want to sit in a shower for an hour? "Because I can" is no answer because I can kick the shit out of you. Unfortunately, this is considered antisocial and so I'm told I can't beat the shit out of people just because I'm bigger than them and a lot more nasty.

  34. Martin Lyne

    Z-z-z-zombie!

    The only reason I like this idea is so that after the Great Zombie Infestation™, I can do some hacking, turn off all the accidentlaly left on lights and cookers etc. and save juice and stop brown/blackouts while the solitary power stations that are still manned/autonomous are struggling.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. pctechxp

    They can do it provided

    They don't charge me a penny for electricity

  37. Solomon Grundy

    @Schultz and Mark

    SchuItz: looked at Knut's website: I can't read it. It's all misspelled and I can't work out the code to decipher it. Regardless, if Knut wants to chip in on my utility bill he's more than welcome to comment on my power usage. Show me the money Knut - otherwise piss off.

    Mark: I'm certain that your comment must have been a joke - either that or you a morbidly obese balding white man who regularly threatens people on the Internet. Spouting off about how "big and nasty" you are is gay - so you must be a big nasty morbidly obese balding white homo. I bet Knut could kick your ass.

  38. Schultz

    @daniel

    Ooh, Knut read the article, complete with footnotes and corrections. Looks like the science is challenging, the ice is still melting, and Mr Godart is apologizing to the powers that know better. But thanks for the pointer, makes for interesting reading.

    And to reply AC: Good for you if you managed to reduce your personal greenhouse gas emissions. The rest of the island surely didn't, but merely exported their emissions to China by buying foreign industrial products. Industrialized country --> servant's country; go GB, Go.

  39. rick buck

    connection fee, just do not actually use it!

    Just like the ISPs, they want you for a customer, but penalize you if you actually use it.

    And the "Turning On Option" is scarier to me...

    'cause they will run it when you are'nt there, just to run up the bill,

    and when you return home (did they install an Occupancy Sensor?),

    they go into conserve mode, and penalize you for minuscule increments of usage.

    That is why I unplug "All Items Not In Use", and

    That's why I keep the Ferrari up on blocks!

  40. ZM

    @Zombie Comment

    Yeah, that would be about the only reason to allow this.

    Call me paranoid, but if you give a company the ability to control things in your house, they'll eventually find a way to make you pay MORE and not less. There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world, and the idea that a company will be altruistic in helping the environment is a load of BS.

    I will not buy any device, nor live in any home or area which requires this. If it means I have to build a log cabin in the woods on my own, then so be it.

    ...wankers...

  41. Michael

    @ AC 12:11

    That'd be "demand outstrips supply", not the other way around.

    If supply outstrips demand, then there is energy surplus.

    When demand outstrips supply, the need arises to either increase supply (expand) or decrease demand (throttle).

    If you're going to try to sound smart, at least put some effort in...

  42. Mark

    @Solomon Grundy

    Well just goes to show how badly you can guess when you've got nothing but "what sounds right" to go on, doesn't it.

    Almost entirely incorrect, and the one that was (middle age) is only right because, by definition, it covers pretty much half of the human lifespan, half of the remainder being far too young or far too old, so not all that accurate a forecast.

    You even managed to get the reason wrong by that classic fallacy "the excluded middle".

    It was a demonstration of how letting an individual "do what it likes and can get away with" is wrong for a social species such as mankind (or maybe that should be personkind as far as PCness is concerned).

    But you excluded that as a possibility because you wanted me inferred to be either fat and all mouth and no trousers or to be gay.

    The latter of which I find strange: most gay men take good care of their bodies.

  43. John Savard Silver badge

    Better Idea

    Well, if there is a serious shortage of energy, not allowing people to use air conditioners or washing machines and so on at certain times would be reasonable. But there's no need to have such a shortage, and resort to such measures; just build more nuclear power plants. As eventually the voters will realize, but then that's perhaps the point of scaring people with such proposals.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    California brownouts?

    I thought the California brownouts were more about companies like Enron (RIP) trying to "game" the pricing system post-privatisation, rather than any real excess of demand over supply? That may have changed recently though.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Only when...

    Only when they prise the BS 1363 from my cold, dead hand.

  46. Zack Mollusc
    Thumb Up

    woot!

    I like the sound of getting a credit whenever they disable my electricity-burning devices. I like it so much that I would fit another few dozen heater elements to my immersion heater, in fact, for a regular fee, i can supply them with many kilowatts of disabled usage. What the heck, I am saving the planet too, I am sure i can get my hands on a disabled pottery kiln that i can be paid to not use.

  47. Jacob Reid
    Paris Hilton

    Easy solution

    Build more nuclear energy.

    Paris because its so blatantly obvious, even she could see it.

  48. Feargal Reilly
    Linux

    Renewables

    It's funny that nobody has mentioned one positive aspect to this: it's friendliness towards renewable energy.

    It's said that the main challenge facing renewable energy generation is that renewable sources are not generally very responsive, hence the need to keep the coal-burners on the grid to handle the spikes.

    This mechanism reduces the severity of the problem for renewables.

    That said, ZM hit the mark with the observation that the more a company can do, the more ways they'll find to take money away from you.

    Tux, because the "Paris, because" meme is too pervasive.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Hmm, I wonder...

    More and more people are using energy saving devices (bulbs and what not) to "save the planet", therefore using less energy. Meanwhile energy prices continually rise...

    Odd that.

    //Coat because it might be needed!

  50. skeptical i

    Who gets turned off, when, and for how long?

    My PoCo offers a "lifeline" discount for low- income folks (I believe it's $8.00 USD a month -- no great shakes, but every little helps). Suppose my PoCo enables such a remote- control system. During the summer, everyone is running air conditioning full blast. Does the PoCo decide to route power away from subsidized customers and to those paying the full fare? Do the county- and state- run nursing homes lose a bit of juice so the private resort- like (and priced) complexes can keep their golf carts charged and their jacuzzis running?

    While there is definitely room for improvement in the conservation arena, there needs to be more education and incentive for customers to play ball; otherwise, as others have pointed out, people might react negatively to having the choices made for them.

  51. Captain DaFt
    Pirate

    @ ZM

    "Call me paranoid, but if you give a company the ability to control things in your house, they'll eventually find a way to make you pay MORE and not less. There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world, and the idea that a company will be altruistic in helping the environment is a load of BS."

    Had a power company for a provider that did a cut back/use less campaign several years ago.

    Funny thing... Within 1 year of their cut back/use less campaign, they were applying to the government for a rate increase due to the effect that their revenues were down, and they got it!

    Net effect, people were using less electricity, and paying the same sized bill for it! So no, you're not paranoid!

    I get my power from a co-op now, like may, many others in the area.

    The skull and crossbones, because all they really want to do is plunder!

  52. Andy
    Coat

    Control - not good.

    This is not good, letting companies control what's in your home. Switching electrical devices on and off, what next, changing the tv channel so you see certain adverts? However, low power light bulbs - good idea. Helps keep our energy bills down a bit. Yes, we should all try and use less electric to try and help save the planet. The thing is this climate change was going to happen sooner or later, we have just brought it all forward a few years. Didn't we come out of a mini ice age a few decades ago -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

    Surely after an ice age it is going to get warmer? And now the leccy companies want us all to roast in the summer (and freeze in the winter). Let's hope it doesn't happen over here in blighty.

    Mines the one with the personal nuclear reactor in the pocket.

  53. Steve Roper
    Thumb Down

    More Orwell...

    "...at present, the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week."

    Yet another implementation from the prophetic work of last century has sprung to the light of day. Next it will be ration cards. After that will come the ration increases, from 30 to 25 grammes per week.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ AC - Power companies == greedy idiots

    "God forbid they spend some of their profits on improving capacity and educating consumers about being more energy-smart, because then they'd have to answer to their shareholders."

    That's not the problem... the bigger problem is they might have to cut the executive bonuses by a few million dollars.

    Paris, cos she knows what to do with a few million dollars.

  55. Kevin Rudd
    Thumb Down

    Double speak

    The power company has the ability to disable devices remotely, without warning or consultation, but they claim that it-

    "accelerates our ability to EMPOWER our customers to manage their energy usage."

    That sentence seems to take wank-words/gobbledygook to a new high mark. (and by high mark I meant low point)

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Back to the stone age with you!

    Electricity to power modern technology available only during certain periods when we have enough oil/coal.

    Alternative energy not available.

    Terms and conditions apply - phone up and be put on hold for ages with irritating messages and music in the background and be put through to a monkey for details.

  57. EvilGav

    Thats Nice

    But it's not sorting the problem, simply trying to control a consequence.

    My uncle lives in Texas, just outside Houston and a couple of years back they had a new house built, quite a large place and in a state that sits in 100 plus degree temeratures for a large part of the year, the AC cost was going to be ridiculous.

    So they asked for solar panels to be installed, as the cost of those would be massively off-set by the reduction in bills. The builders refused to have anything to do with them, claiming that no solar panles were available that were efficient enough to warrant installation.

    With that sort of attitude, what hope is there ??

  58. elderlybloke
    Thumb Up

    We have been controlled for a long , long time

    Here in New Zealand, the hot water cylinders have a "ripple-control" , that allows the supplier to cut the power at peak demand.

    The cost of the controlled power is rather less than the uncontrolled .

    A better way of doing things than a blackout because of demand exceeding supply.

  59. David Halko
    Flame

    Such is life with Government Monopolies

    The world is beginning to understand what Government Run Monopolies are all about... rationing.

    - ration health care

    - ration road usage

    - ration electricity usage

    As far as the "California brownouts?" - that was caused not by Enron, but by the government of California and the United States.

    California imports their electricity from Canada and Mexico, where it can be generated by dirty fuel, because the people like California Democratic Speaker of the House Pelosi believes that Alternative Energy should be used to the exclusion of traditional energy sources.

    They shut down coal power plants, did not build new nuclear plants, and then there was a lack of power in a particular portion of California. They had to rely on some small independent power companies to provide all the output they could, using very expensive fuel (since the cheap fuel was illegal in California.)

    California started soaking up a tremendous quantity of natural gas to generate "clean electricity", raising prices across the entire United States, and driving the utilities into near bankruptcy when they could not raise their rates!

    Eventually, the problem was patched by building high-tension power lines to carry capacity from another part of the state, but had diverse (coal, nuclear, oil, wind, etc.) power plants been allowed to be built in the region where people were building - it would never have happened and tax payers would not be paying the now inflated prices for the next 10 years.

    Brownouts, are just another form of rationing.

    Citizens can not even get renewable sources of energy built to replace the normal forms of energy that are being made illegal!

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/08/26/bat_barotrauma/

    Government and Environmental Terrorists will do this to you all the time - force the rationing of resources... When they stick their leprous finger in the pie, they somehow don't understand that people who are feeding the pie to their children eventually figure out why their children get sick!

    The world economy is sick and these groups are to blame.

  60. Vic
    Flame

    South Africa wants to do this

    But by a slightly less IT friendly method I think - something to do with ripple switches on hot water systems and other non-essentials like pool pumps and air con. See, I resent that. My hot water system is switched off practically all summer - I mean, it's like 35 degrees, no one uses the hot water anyway - but when I want a hot shower I want a hot shower...but of course that's going to be the exact time I can't get one. And I don't have air con nor a swimming pool.

    Personally I'm in favour of local government using reservoirs - pump water up by means of small wind farm, etc. and cheap electricity overnight (I mean no one's using it at 4am are they?) then run it at peak times if they find themselves under stress. And yeah, charge people extra for peak power if you want.

    The other thing that might just help is a massive subsidy on efficient solar for households and businesses (won't work in the frozen north but for the rest of us). If I can get a couple of cheap panels to run 40% of my household needs, that's 40% I won't need from the grid. But no, that's too difficult. We'd rather invest taxpayers' money in big new dumbass coal-fired. Why? Because then all your power needs are belong to us. Maybe Monsanto has a deal with the utilities....

  61. Mark

    LIA LIE

    "Didn't we come out of a mini ice age a few decades ago -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age"

    Each winter we come out of a little ice age.

    If you define "ice age" appropriately.

  62. Mark

    Power and solar arrays

    Many power stations cover a large area of land and often has big open spaces within its grounds.

    So how about adding solar panels there. Add them on top of the buildings. Cover carparking with a roof of panels.

    No change in infrastructure.

  63. Boring Bob

    Exists in France

    Something similar already exists in France. You can go only a special rate where you pay less for "blue" days and get your arse whipped on "red" days. You find out in the evening if the next day is a red day or not (EDF guaranty a maximum number of red days a year, but have 100% flexibility on deciding which days these will be) . They send signals on the mains lines so that you can have intelligent fuses that either switch on/off or even control a thermostat.

    You remain in full control (it is your fuse box after all). If you decide to use a lot of electricity on a red day you will certainly pay for it. My father-in-law uses this special rate and is amply rewarded by low eleccy bills for his flexibility.

  64. Wize

    Surely this would use more power

    All this smart electronics, sitting there monitoring the mains for signals will increase the power drain.

  65. druck Silver badge
    Boffin

    Re: Dynamic Demand

    There's a nice meter of UK supply frequency at http://www.dynamicdemand.co.uk/grid.htm

    It makes a lot of sense for devices which have cyclic power demands to monitor the mains frequency and delay their operation during peak demand (with manual override of course), as large spikes add considerably to the cost of generation.

    As it is a legal requirement to keep the mains frequency within +/- 1% and to maintain an average of 50Hz over a 24 hour period, frequency is a good gauge of demand, with very little scope to be manipulated by the energy companies, unlike a external signal which they can use at will.

  66. PT
    Flame

    @ David Halko

    You're a gormless twerp, Halko. Everyone knows who and what caused the California energy crisis. Unregulated free market capitalism, red in tooth and claw. You got your cut out of it, no doubt? Or are you just one of those red state morons voting against your own economic interests because you think you might become a millionaire tomorrow?

  67. Steve B

    Zigbee's a mesh network

    So you get other peoples data as well. Although it is uncrackable encryption.

    Someone's slow; I mentioned this exact thing in the comments ages ago now.

    The US utility main target is the aircon during the day.

    Doesn't affect us in the UK so the UK government will probably use the technology to let local councils decide how many people are in the house and whether they are sharing showers or not.

    Strangely enough the one use it probably would never be put to is to detect the high power usage of a suburban pot farm!

  68. David Halko
    Flame

    to PT - California Energy Crisis Clarification

    PT expresses, "Everyone knows who and what caused the California energy crisis. Unregulated free market capitalism, red in tooth and claw."

    California's clean air standards limited in-state electricity generation to natural gas because of its lower emissions. This is not free-market capitalism, because there is no choice, rather a dictation by the government. This was unrealistic regulation.

    There was a drought in the Summer of 2000, reducing the amount of energy being supplied to California. This is a fact.

    As the demand increased in areas, retail prices were artificially capped by the government, keeping the utilities from expanding production. This is also a fact.

    California lawmakers capped electricity prices and required utility to buy electricity from spot markets when challenged with power deficiencies. Price caps are not free-market capitalism, it is dictatorship.

    California had a weak electrical infrastructure and California lawmakers made it impossible for them to upgrade it. Let me explain.

    Path 15 allows electricity to travel from North to South, had not been expanded for years, and became a major bottleneck point. Only 3,900 Megawatts could be sent over Path 15. This forced the purchasing of energy from only a few producers using limited natural gas resources. Limited choices and suppliers is not free-market, it is typical poor central planning. This bottleneck was known since the 1980's in California, yet the dumb lawmakers decided to price-cap and inhibit the utilities from fixing the problem. See http://www.wapa.gov/sn/ops/transmission/path15/factSheet.pdf

    After struggling for years with the crisis and refusing to address the core issues (due to the unpopularity of diverse power plant construction in California by lobbying groups), Democrat Governor Gray Davis of California (in November 2003, right before being kicked out of office by the citizens of California) eventually bailed out the utilities using tax payer money, streamlined the application process for new power companies.

    In 2004, Republican Governor of California Arnold Sch attended the commissioning ceremony of a new upgraded long haul electrical infrastructure to resolve the Path 15 problem.

    California has experienced few problems since, but the resolution to the problem came too late (years of warnings, years of inaction by Gray.) Gray only had the guts to try to fix the problem when he lost his re-election bid and the green lobbies no longer had power over him.

    - Had the diverse generators been available in the area which needed the power, natural gas prices would not have become a single bottleneck.

    - Had Path 15 been upgraded while it was tightly regulated by the California government before partial deregulation, or been allowed to be upgraded via rate hikes during deregulation, there would not have been a problem.

    - Had prices been allowed to rise for consuming electricity, usage would have been reduced normally, and rationing would not have been needed through brown-outs.

    - The IEA says a 5% reduction in demand would have resulted in a lowering of prices by 50%, market forces (had they been allowed to function by the government) - see page 8 http://www.iea.org/textbase/speech/2003/phbilling.pdf

    Diversity in power sources to eliminate the need to transfer power, proper capacity to manage power demands in transfer system, or complete deregulation to allow retail price increase to reduce energy consumption voluntarily would have kept the 2000-2001 crisis from happening in California.

    It was a perfect storm in California - history shows all options were taken off the table by lawmakers and all citizens suffered.

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