back to article Green-loving California may dodge utility bill bullet

California may get the last laugh standing firm by its tree-hugging ways. It was largely a day of foreboding environmental forecasts at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's Energy Summit held at Stanford on Friday. But as fuel prices continue to rise — there may at least be a promise of California offering consumers some hope …


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  1. yeah, right.

    How dare they?

    Don't they know that privatization ALWAYS leads to everything being better and rosier and more efficient and cheaper and better? How dare they insinuate that government (by the people, for the people) involvement might actually have benefits for the people governed? How dare they interfere with the god-given right of corporations to screw the people so long as there is a profit to be made?

    It's just un-American I say! Ban California!

  2. Martin Usher

    I think we're just slightly ahead of the curve...

    We got a preview of the current oil price turbulence when our electricity supply was deregulated around 2000. Once price caps were removed (practically the first act by the incoming Bush Administration) prices rose rapidly and we started to experience power shortages that resulted in rolling blackouts. The reason was, we were told, a combination of market forces and aging infrastructure -- our greed was overloading the system, it was all our fault (&tc &tc &tc). The trading system set up to market the power wasn't hermetic, though, and when it cracked we discovered that the real reason for power price rises was rampant speculation and market manipulation. This had the makings of a major political scandal so a deal was negotiated that essentially froze the power prices at their inflated levels.

    So the reason why we're unlikely to get significant power cost rises in the near future is that we're already paying them. The deal with the power companies effectively guaranteed a fixed prices for whatever power was sold so there is an incentive for those companies to reduce demand by subsidizing power saving. Very green, but its really 'sleaze'.

    The irony in all this is that the power trading system that Enron set up that allowed us to get screwed was sold off after Enron went bust and is now being used to trade oil futures. We're being treated to roughly the same show over oil prices -- its like the script's the same, its just been crudely edited to substitute oil for electricity or natural gas.

  3. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    @yeah, right

    Actually, privatization worked well in... Finland, was it?

    Maybe Finnish corporations have different morals than most?

    Paris, because her morals are also significantly different than most...

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice to negawatts doing a good job

    The sad thing is how long it's taken:

    A paper from 1989 for fuck's sake!

  5. The Prevaricator

    California will be wanting to...

    join the EU, or something ridiculous next...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    @yeah, right

    I'm having a hard time seeing your commie utopian angle in this story. These economic benefits are largely unintended consequences of measures taken for environmental reasons. It must burn you that Arnold was behind it. The biggest consequences of any government action are unintended, this one time out of 100 there seems to be some upside.

    Anyway, the downfall of the deregulation fiasco was that it wasn't actually deregulation. End-user prices were capped, but utility companies' costs were not, opening the type of gigantic inefficiency that Enron-type sleazes dream of. "By the people, for the people"...screwed the people. Because "the people" tend to be even more selfish and short-sighted than those big evil corporations.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Increase??? Really?

    I just moved out of California... My utility bill there was never lower than $300 per month. I had green appliances, and replaced everything when I moved into the house.

    My first full month's bill for utilities was $125. I am told by my co-workers that this is the right bill... So while I may see 20%-30% increase in my bill - it still won't hit what I was paying... GO CALIFORNIA!!!

  8. Ian Michael Gumby

    If the premise were true...

    ... then you'd see PG&E would be building nuclear power plants.

    Oh wait, that's right. They can't because most of California is on unstable ground.

    It takes about 10-15 years to build a new power plant so if you wanted to be ahead of the curve you'd have kept an active nuclear power generation program. The only *country* to do this are the French.

    Yes, yet another reason to hate the French because of their smugness and forethought.

  9. fred slack

    Disguised theft

    I see no mention of the pirates at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    1/3 of our bill goes to the city of Los Angeles in the form of add on fees and taxes. It amounts to almost a $100 a month.

  10. joe


    @Prevaricator: possibly, but it turns out the EU's auto emissions standards are too lax, you'd need to toughen them up if you want to join us. (Hey, we're already run by an Austrian.)

    @anonymous coward1: Actually wasn't most of the power deal negotiated while Gray Davis was still in office?

    @anonymous coward2: I've never had my utilities go over $100 in California. Maybe you need to turn a few things off.

    Mine's the sweater, for wearing in the winter...

  11. Anonymous Coward


    disastrous utility "deregulation" nitwittery: Gray Davis

    "Global Warming Solutions Act": Arnold

    "Come with me if you want to live.": Arnold

    F yeah!

    Unsuccessful, over-reaching government interventions tend to fall into two classes: naive first-order thinking where "we change this one thing and everything else remains unchanged" [it's never the case that "all else is equal"] and "ok, we'll correct for the higher-order terms with these specific measures", which is just a fancier version of the same failure, but usually exaggerating the severity of the worst case.

    Utility deregulation was the second type, where they tried to insulate the consumer from risk by capping his costs, deregulating only the prices paid by the utility company. No pricing pressure, demand unchecked, Enron jerks laughing all the way to the bank because they can charge the utilities as much as they want.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    California imports significant amount of energy, probably >20%, from other states. Some of it comes from coal burning plants, some from Hoover Dam and other hydro. Californians will keep getting screwed up on energy until they build more power plants. Or until enough people flea the state to cause energy consumption to drop.

  13. Gordon Pryra

    State owned utilitys works in California

    Because their leaders are all bastard rich

    It’s more of a "power game/some thing to fill the time" than an excuse to fill their own pockets.

    The English versions are so corrupt that they are almost supposed to fail.

    The old privatised industries are governed by "Watch Dogs" which are aimed at siphoning off cash to the same people skimming the state owned industries.

    Until we get people who actually want to make things better running the country, we will just be left with bunches of evil bastards who sit down to a 50 course lunch on world starvation with Mugabe

  14. Amanda

    $300 electric bills? Pshhh...

    My parents in Texas paid that during the summer back in the late 90's. We do not talk about electric bills now.

    (34 EUR/mo!!! But Germans don't believe in air conditioning...)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ian Gumby

    The trouble is the Froggies just jump their nuclear waste water straight into the English Channel (note the name, it's most certainly NOT the French Channel).

    Most people thought the Channel Islanders were inbred but it seems it's all down to the Froggies poluting the world because they don't build nuclear reactors to any sort of safety specification.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    EURO4 and EURO5 are AFAIK lightyears ahead of anything California has in its legal pipelines dude

  17. Steen Hive


    "Anyway, the downfall of the deregulation fiasco was that it wasn't actually deregulation."

    Anyone in IT wanting to run equipment off an unregulated power supply needs their head looked at.

  18. Mark

    re: @yeah, right

    So what if they are unintended consequences? Are they consequences you'd like to see? Lower increase in bills?

    PS to "Increase??? Really?" Please remember that the $300 bill was the result of private enterprise being allowed to run utilities. Rather tells the lie to private industry being more efficient and cheaper, eh?

  19. Eduard Coli

    Duh, CA already paid their tab

    After getting shafted by the energy monopoly with the help of the state government maybe CA deserves a break.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Private control of public utilities stinks

    The Los Angeles DWP kept our electricity bills constant during Enron's Republican-sanctioned privatized theft. Thank God for our "socialist" Department of Water and Power!

    The roadkill icon, because that is the Republican Party in California.

  21. Bruce

    Please check your facts

    Humm. from my last bill here in Kalifornia...:

    2008 renewable power mix: 8%

    2007 renewable power mix 10%

    2008 large hydroelectric 5%

    2007 large hydroelectric 24%

    2008 Natural Gas 58%

    2007 Natural Gas 31%

    2008 Coal 10%

    2007 Coal 32%

    2008 Nuclear 19%

    2007 Nuclear 3%.

    just using a rough summary,

    2008 fossil fuel power generation 68%

    2007 fossil fuel power generation 63%

    yep.. rapidly making headway against fossil fuel usage here in good old Kalifornia!!

    ** To combat Greenhouse, they are shifting to Natural Gas from Coal... So what is really going to happen to rates?

    -- a flame for the fossils burning..

  22. Richard
    Thumb Up

    PG&E rebates on Sun Technology

    Not sure if you followed the story but PG&E were so impressed with Niagara they offer rebates of up to $1000 per server, I understand the ONLY one on the market to receive this....'by their fruits shall ye know them'

  23. StopthePropaganda

    @ Martin Usher

    How can you manage to drop in a Bush reference and totally miss the boat on Gray Davis? Remember most vividly and denounce the Republican who changed the system, but forget the Democrat who actually committed the crime?

  24. StopthePropaganda

    Oh we're ahead of the curve allright

    we've been overcharged more for a lot longer.

    We didn't "dodge" any bullet for price increases, CA Demos were already screwing over the people for a lot longer so we just got these "price increases" earlier.

    "Green" my @ss. The only "green" is the money government and their industry cronies can bring in. CA is just ahead in the corruption, but has Big Media covering up for them and making excuses or telling only half truths.

  25. Peter Bradshaw

    Let's put the blame wjere it belongs.

    The California Electricity deregulation bill was actually passed during the previous Republican administration. By the time it came into effect, and the "smartest guys in the room" figured out how to get rich off it, Gray Davis was governor, and got hit with the resulting flak.

    By the way, some Republicans think Arnold is a closet Democrat. Just remember the family his wife comes from. He certainly ranks higher on my list than just about any other Republican in years.

  26. Ishkandar

    @The Prevaricator

    Naw !! Highly unlikely !! With a large minority of its population of Asian origin and with the rise of China and Vietnam as economic dynamos, not to mention the Japanese out-innovating everyone else, California will opt to join the Greater East-Asia Co-prosperity Sphere V2.0 !! V1.0 got incinerated in nuclear fire at the end of 1945 !! V2.0 relies on more pacific(??) means (pun intended) !!

  27. Ishkandar

    @Peter Bradshaw

    "By the way, some Republicans think Arnold is a closet Democrat."

    Of course, he's a Socialist. He's Austrian, isn't he ?? Just hope that he's not a *National* Socialist !! There's still a few hanging around somewhere in this world !!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    California get substantial power and water from out-of-state. They use oil developed and refined elsewhere to fuel their vehicles. They are parasites --- not leaders

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