It seems odd that a company whose main business is to create and sell electricity would be FOR the removal of dams which provide clean, sustainable hydroelectric power. But that is exactly what we are faced with: Pacific Power is for tearing out dams along the Klamath River. Why? Well here are three simple reasons (none of them good for us):
- The 25% Mandate. By 2025 all energy companies in Oregon are mandated by the State to have 25% of their power come from "Renewable Energy". Seems somewhat silly that Hydro is left off the list they consider "Renewable". There is a sliding scale so by 2015 its 15%, by 2020 its 20% and by 2025 its 25%. As a business there are two ways to get your energy portfolio to comply. First you can increase the amount of solar and wind power in your portfolio. Pacific Power is doing just that with rebates and paying up to 5x the amount for solar power — to encourage more on their grid. Second you can lessen the amount of power you generate from traditional resources. No matter how you get to the correct percentage both strategies are being pursued. And make no mistake, both strategies also mean higher electrical costs going forward.
- Political Correctness. If there was one thing I could remove from the American thought process it would be political correctness. This is a PR move by Pacific Power to look like they care and are concerned about the Tribes, the Farmers, the Fish, the Antelope, the rocks, the trees and the stars. It is pure, unadulterated B.S. See reason number one for the main driver, but don't underestimate the executive suite where there is little fortitude to stand up against the Tribes, the FIsh and the environmental wackos. Producing less power isn't beneficial for all, and yet cowtowing to these groups keep them out of the crosshairs of frivolous lawsuits.
- It Will Cost Less. This one I can kind of get my head around. Pacific Power says it will cost less to remove dams than it would be to relicense them. But the only reason that is true is because:
- Tax payers will be required to fund much of the cost of dam removal. Matter of fact, it's already happening with a special "fee" on the end of your bill each month. Whether you want it or not, Pacific Power is already taxing you to remove dams. Thanks PUC for looking out for us!
- The relicensing requirements are extreme and made that way to be cost prohibitive. The rules for relicensing are made to encourage dam removal, not renovation and safety.
Pacific Power really doesn't care if they produce 10,000 Mega Watts or 10. All they care about is getting enough money through the Public Utility Commission to stay in business. Fewer dams mean few employees which mean fewer headaches. No problem. As long as the executives get's their money, all is well — for them.
This is not capitalism. There is no incentive to seeking real energy solutions that work. There are no market forces in place that make Pacific Power become better and better at what they provide or go out of business. Pacific Power gets a D-. And I'm in a good mood today.
That's what has me puzzled about Pacific Power, like any other business, needs to generate more revenue than incurred expenses to survive. It is in the business of making electricity and then selling that at a profit (selling electricity for MORE than it costs to produce). And yet if you put in a solar power array, Pacific Power is willing to pay you 4-5x the going rate to buy that electricity. What? Yeah, that's what I think. Who in their right mind would pay 5x the going rate to buy something that they make below the market rate.
Is electricity generated by solar panels more powerful than electricity generated by coal or hyrdo? Of course not. Matter of fact solar is far less efficient than either of those by a magnitude. Yet Pacific Power is paying solar "farms" 4-5x the going rate. Not only why, but how do they do that and stay in business?
If you just listened to the rhetoric on the other side, you would probably come to the conclusion that the main obstacle to returning prosperity to the Basin is those darn dams along the Klamath river. If we could just get rid of them, we could all once again live in harmony with each other and with nature.
The gospel according to KBRA preaches that if we can get those dams to come a tumblin' down, then fish populations will magically return to numbers only seen before western europeans inhabited the land. There would be so many salmon running up and down the Klamath river we would no longer need bridges — one could just walk on fish from one side to the other.
However, this thinking all hinges on the the assertion that the Klamath River Dams are the single, significant cause for a decline in fish population during the past 60 years. What if this assertion is wrong? Could there be other explanations for fish population decline that we haven't explored or have dismissed because our world view of “dam removal or die” prevents us from seeing the truth?
Unintended consequences are results that were unforseen or not well thought out when a decision was made. For example, the uninteneded consequence of little John-John playing with a ball in the house is that he accidentally knocks over his brother's dominos. He didn't mean to, but it happened because of his decision to play with a ball near his brother's dominos.
Sometimes there are positive unitended consequences. However, more often than not, complex problems that are “fixed” with a simple solution usually lead to negative ones.
Does the KBRA have unitended consequences? Of course it does. Here are just a few:
For those living in the Klamath Basin, math has changed a bit. If you asked a local what “2+2 equals”, they would tell you “4” . If you asked someone what “4+4 equals”, they would say “8”. And if you asked them what “KBRA equals” they would reply, "Jobs."
Really? KBRA = Jobs? That's the answer?
Hmmm. Let's review the back-work to this equation to make sure there aren't any mistakes.
One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to visit an old fashioned car show. The Klamath Kruise is an annual favorite — gazing upon all those old restored cars and trucks as if they just rolled off the assembly line. It's a lot of fun looking, hearing, smelling and remembering (and wondering) what it was like "back then".
But when it comes to nature, can it be restored, like a 1952 Studebaker? Can nature be rolled back the way it was 50 years ago? How about people, can we be restored? Now thinking about it, can cars really be restored? In the case of cars, they are a non-living, man-made creation. Therefore the answer is yes, cars can be restored because all the parts can be swapped out with originals. But with living organisms, such as people and nature, restoration is not quite that simple. While face lifts, hair regrowth, tummy tucks and botox try to roll back the clock, it's a mere illusion. After the procedure is done, we are still the same age, no matter what we've had "altered" to try and say otherwise. In the end reality rules the day. The same can be said about nature. It is silly to think we can roll back the sands of time and pretend it is 1911 by removing this or adding that. It is 2011 and nature has adapted and moved on. Moreover, nature is such a complex set of systems, sub-systems and super-systems, the idea that humans can alter something and restore nature back to what it was 100 years ago is a very utopian notion.
If you have driven around the Klamath Basin within the past year you have most likely seen those yellow sign with black letters with the following equation: KBRA = Jobs! For those not in the know, KBRA stands for the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. According to a KBRA website,
“The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement is a settlement agreement among residents of the Klamath Basin that creates a solid path forward on long-standing, stalemated resource disputes in the region.”
The main resource disputed is water — who gets it, how much and when. In a wet year, like 2011, water disputes are all but gone. However, during a dry year like last year and 2001:
In the latest round of debates concerning the Federal Budget and Debt Ceiling, President Obama said we need a "balanced approach". The President claimed in order to solve the government shortfall we need to cut spending and raise revenue. This is the only sensible approach.
Additionally, Mr. Obama mentioned we need "shared sacrifice". But what does that exactly mean? The term stems back to World War II when the country, on whole, had to give up certain amenities in order to help win the war. The idea is if everyone gives a little, it adds up to a lot and great good can come of this. Liberals love this concept.
However, that's not what Mr. Obama is asking for. When he talks of shared sacrifice he would like to raise tax rates on those making above $250,000 a year (including businesses). Notice he is not demanding everyone contribute a little more, just those over making $250,000 a year. The President's idea is that the "millionaires and billionaires" can afford to give more and strongly suggests they have a moral obligation to do so. They ought to give more for the greater good. This is what is fair.
In political discourse the goal has always been the same: win the argument. But today it feels a little different than yesteryear because it's: win — at all costs. Said another way, often the ends often justify the means. With this win at all cost mentality, something is sacrificed — the truth. Candidates tend to shade the facts one way or another when it concerns themselves and often outright lie about their opponent’s views.
One sad casualty in this "new politic" is the real meaning of Self Interest. Ask anyone what this term means and most wouldn't have any idea. Those who do respond usually confuse self interest with being self-centered or selfish.
Self Interest is a crucial conservative concept for the general public to understand. Without a proper understanding conservatives become easy targets, quickly labeled by opponents as greedy, mean spirited and self-serving. So what does Self Interest mean?
Some say it's not polite to speak the truth in such a bold fashion. Others say not to hold back but just to speak your mind. There is probably some wisdom in both and knowing when to apply each bit of wisdom makes one, well, wise.
Klamath County is suffering a terrible time economically. A 13+% unemployment rate is awful for even one quarter but Klamath has been dealing with this reality for over two years — with no end in sight. Reality is rearing its ugly face and with the national economy set to double-dip into another recession, Klamath residents are holding on for dear life.
The cold, hard facts are that our community, our county, our state and our nation thrive only when capitalism is allowed to thrive. Our county does not work, when 13% are not working. Our county does not work when public employee sector jobs are the envy of the jobless or those gainfully employed! Mark Belling substituted for Rush Limbaugh today and uttered this profundity,