The Locker Room

August 18, 2008

Re: Save A Watt and Blah Blah

Posted by Daren Bakst at 8:54 PM


You have it right--the Save A Watt program and the program proposed by NC WARN and others simply means higher costs.

I do want to stress that I'm against a third party administrator running a program just as much as I'm against Duke running the program.   I also don't think it would be legal for the Utilities Commission, without new legislation, to adopt the alternative idea.

As my new paper (coming soon!) points out, many of the arguments that opponents of Save-A-Watt have made are also applicable to a third party administrator running a program.

The underlying premise of energy efficiency programs is that consumers are too stupid to know whether it is in their own interests to buy energy efficient goods and services.  As a result, we need everybody to pay a hidden tax in their electricity bills to subsidize incentives.  These incentives go to people that do the "right thing," as defined by Duke or another program administrator.

Basically, the government is going to centrally plan home appliance purchases.

I do want to point out something that makes the NC WARN proposal even worse than Save A Watt.  Their plan is to mandate the reduction of energy use by 1% every year by 2018.  At least with Save A Watt, there is no mandate.  Electricity consumers, not the program administrator, would pay to meet that mandate.  There's no cap on costs when it comes to the energy efficiency component of S.B. 3--the costs to meet this could be far more than Save A Watt--especially based on the farce of figuring out the savings achieved by an energy efficiency program.

Oh, by the way, guess what the Utilities Commission is keeping confidential?  The cost to consumers for Save A Watt.  Back-door dealing was invented at the Utilities Commission (I don't have a cite for that).  Of course, it is just a little thing like COST!  Hello?

"For the Company's [Duke) residential programs, the program administrator revenue per lifetime kWh saved [actual cost to consumers] ranges from $(Confidential) per lifetime kWh saved to $(Confidential)."  

- Page 8 (also see pages 9-10) of Redacted Testimony of Richard F. Spellman (Mr. Spellman was the Public Staff's "star witness.")

Energy Efficiency Programs: Central planning by a few that is completely hidden from public view. Where have I seen that before?

Linkable Entry

Save A Watt and NC $aves - Not savings at all

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:35 PM

Duke Power’s new Save A Watt program was the subject at the utility hearings today reports the Charlotte Business Journal.   Save-A Watt is a mandated energy efficiency program allowed under last year’s massive energy bill (Senate Bill 3).  

In a Locker Room post in early July, Daren alerted us to concerns expressed by the Public Staff  over increased costs of light bulbs under the Save A Watt program.  And just a few days ago Daren wondered why environmental groups had not pushed for third party administration of Save A Watt. Well, they apparently were listening because today, environmental group N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN) proposed an alternative plan they’re calling NC $aves that would be administered by a third party.  Their plan calls for a mandated 1% decrease in energy use every year for 10 years.  By 2018, energy use through efficiency measures under NC Saves would be reduced 10%.  Senate Bill 3 required utilities to develop programs that would reduce electricity demand by 5% by the year 2021.  See more details in Daren's SB3 spotlight here.

What the government mandated energy efficiency requirements are and how they are administered, either by the utility companies or a third party group, mean the same thing for consumers – higher energy prices.


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Proof of the self-perpetuating government agency

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:01 PM

I'm sure I'm not the only one who reacted to this item ...

If you're calling for John Edwards, try another number.

The former North Carolina senator helped get the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity started to focus on one of his pet issues.

But the center recently changed its after-hours message to discourage callers looking for him.

"Please note: Senator John Edwards is no longer affiliated with this center and cannot be reached at this number," says a woman's voice on the center's voice mail. "Thank you, and we look forward to speaking with you."

... by asking, "Now that John Edwards no longer needs a phony job to give him a campaign platform, why the heck does this center still exist?"

Maybe it's time for another Jon Sanders missive on the pointlessness of this group.

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Senate Republican leader reacts to community college decision

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:32 PM

From the office of Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger:

“The decision on whether or not to allow illegal immigrants in our community college system isvery straightforward; I don’t know what a consultant needs to study.  Illegal immigrants should not be rewarded with the benefit of admission to our taxpayer-supported community colleges.  Democrats should deal with this issue now and not use an expensive, taxpayer-funded study as an excuse to wait until after the November election.  Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for this ‘study’ as it is a tremendous waste of money.”

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How often N.C. delegation voted with Bush

Posted by David N. Bass at 3:15 PM

The News and Observer quotes statistics from the Congressional Quarterly on how often North Carolina's congressional delegation voted with President Bush's positions.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican, voted with Bush most often (91.6 percent) and Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat, voted with Bush least often (16.1 percent).

Linkable Entry

The Panama Canal's impact on American politics

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:20 PM

The debate over the turnover of the Panama Canal is three decades old, but Adam Clymer says that debate has had a major impact on American politics that continues today.

Clymer, the former chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, has written a book on the topic called Drawing The Line At The Big Ditch. He discussed that book during today's meeting of the John Locke Fondation's Shaftesbury Society.

6 p.m. update: Watch the entire presentation here.

Linkable Entry

Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 09:59 AM

• Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory will meet in their first live television debate tomorrow night. Both seem to be practicing their zingers.

• The N&O offers a round-up of recent polling on the presidential, gubernatorial, and U.S. Senate races. The paper's Ryan Beckwith also summarizes the announced plans of outside groups to conduct independent expenditures in these races.

Linkable Entry

How dare they!

Posted by John Hood at 09:59 AM

AEI economist Kevin Hassett writes an indispensable column for Bloomberg News. His latest offering is particularly valuable, debunking the silly notion reported in the N&O and hundreds of other newspapers last week that most U.S. corporations are somehow evading their income-tax liabilities: 

While it is true that 60 percent to 70 percent of companies in the study paid no tax in a given year, there was a big qualification. The study focused on an Internal Revenue Service tax database that included millions and millions of companies. The vast majority of firms in the study were tiny mom- and-pop enterprises.

Why did the tiny mom-and-pop enterprises pay no taxes? Because they didn't make any money! The study reported that was the reason about 80 percent of the firms in the sample avoided taxes in a given year. How terrible of them.

If the GAO issued a report that added together data for nine hot dog stands and General Electric Co., and found that 90 percent of companies didn't pay any tax, it would be a harmless and silly thing to do. But if the Democrats then rush to the microphones and insinuate to the general public that 90 percent of companies are tax dodgers, the stakes change.


For big corporations, the story is different, and utterly inconsistent with the Democratic screed. The study found that about 75 percent of large companies (those with sales above $50 million) paid taxes in 2005, about typical for recent U.S. history. And those that didn't pay taxes in 2005 did so earlier, so almost no companies went through the sample period without paying taxes. The latter is, again, typical.

Linkable Entry

Obama disses Clarence Thomas

Posted by George Leef at 09:00 AM

This editorial in today's Wall Street Journal covers an interesting feature of last weekend's forum with Obama and McCain. The question asked was which of the sitting Supreme Court justices each would not have nominated. Naturally, Obama went after Clarence Thomas.

It is now fair game to ask Obama about Justice Thomas' opinions. Does he disagree with Thomas' dissent in Kelo, for example? I would like to know.

Linkable Entry

Clearing up climate confusion

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:34 AM

Roy Spencer is used to being labeled a "global warming denier." But anyone who listens to what Spencer has to say — or what he's written in the recent book Climate Confusion — will learn quickly that Spencer denies no scientifically proven facts associated with global warming.

Instead Spencer takes issue with the extrapolations global warming alarmists have made from facts to their predictions of environmental gloom and doom. He notes that no one, including a trained climate scientist like himself, has enough knowledge about the way the climate works to know the impact of man's contribution to global warming.

The thermostatic control system in your house might be small and somewhat complex, but you know it must be understood in order to explain the temperature of the air in your house. Very few climate researchers are actively trying to understand how the Earth's thermostatic control system operates. It is so complex, and so little is understood about it, we just sweep it under the rug and hope that it’s not too important.

As a result, the climate modelers' belief in a sensitive climate system is due to a misplaced faith in overly simplistic climate models.

Spencer's book also focuses on an important element missing from much of the current climate debate: economics. He reminds us that any idea pursued in the name of fighting global warming must provide more benefits than costs to make sense.

You'll soon have a chance to hear more from Spencer. He'll deliver a John Locke Foundation Headliner address Sept. 16 in Raleigh.

Linkable Entry

Really protecting endangered species

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:31 AM

The "Moment" section of TIME — known for its attribution-free presentations of the magazine writers' personal opinions about the news — focuses this week (in a slightly different form here) on the future of the Endangered Species Act.

Rather than pining for the 1970s, "a golden age for U.S. environmentalists," perhaps TIME should consider ideas that might actually help endangered species, such as those espoused by free-market environmentalists such as Rick Stroup.

Linkable Entry

McCain and the digital divide

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:29 AM

John McCain's disinterest in the Internet continues to attract national media attention this week, this time from TIME columnist Lev Grossman.

One real downside of McCain's refusal to surf the Web is his inability to read Roy Cordato's criticism of his policies.

Linkable Entry

Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:18 AM

The first Carolina Journal Online exclusive of the new week features Davd Bass' report on reaction to the state's new drought management rules.

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on areas in which environmentalists and free-market advocates share common interests. 

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