Jack, sorry to hear that. When I lived in LA several years ago, the municipally owned Department of Water and Power had really low rates over a long period of time and well maintained infrastructure. I was surprised, having grown up with profit-seeking monopoly PG&E, and also knowing what I knew about the really dirty dealings involved in LA's early water history. Also, there are municipally owned water districts in the San Francisco Bay area that are well known for characteristics similar to those of LA's DWP. I have heard that the beneficence (or not) of municipal ownership varies widely depending on state.
Ann, the problem is not the profit motive, it's the lack of meaningful competition. (It's pretty much the same with our public water utility - where we pay the water rate, then about double for a "sewer charge"). Then you have government regulation mandating that you "save electricity" which does nothing for saving dollars.
Regarding the use on autos and trucks: The move to LEDs was more obvious at this year's Detroit Auto Show. The new Dodge Dart uses 152 LEDs on the back lights and triunk decklid. Numerous cars were using them in the interiors. Most of the hybrids (hybrid engineers are obsessive about power draw in hybrids) used them on the rear lights and interiors.
Jack, the same thing has happened here in California multiple times with our local utility, PG&E (the ones who became famous for not maintaining their gas lines in San Bruno, causing that fatal explosion last year). Anyway, they keep getting rate increases, and then send out the same little "helpful" bill stuffers telling us how to conserve energy. This even though California has come out at the top of states in how much its citizens saved energy over a multi-year period. If utilities are truly publicly owned, as in by local municipal districts, instead of by shareholders who want profits, perhaps this behavior would stop.
Talking about the heat coming from LEDs. With more and more trucks using LEDs I have seen or read of more instances where the LED can heat up the loading dock shelter and cause damage. Sometimes solving a problem does cause other problems. Especially if there is not a good understanding of the entire system or environment the solution will be in.
That is funny, Tim. I didn't realize LEDs would throw off enough heat to make a difference. Perhaps it's that the heat is at the back of the fixture rather than in the blub (which wouldn't attract nexting birds).
We had looked at LEDs for parking lot lights to save cost. Unfortunately, the heat sync on the back of the lights gets to a perfect temperature for birds to build nests on them. Solve one problem and create another
The pretty LEDs are a welcome replacement for the small incandescent light bulbs, in that they appear to offer better reliability. The actual reliability remains to be seen, since most products will last for a while, regardless of the quality. Her in the Greater DEtroit Michigan area it is the weather that works against the lifetime of lights. The salt mist from road salt is much worse than the MIL salt-spray test, and it goes on for a much longer time as well. So since the lights are not even slightly water proof, they certainly need to be corrosion resistant.
The concern about power shows a fundamental misunderstanding of resource utilization. Utilities make money when their capacity is utilized. Unused capacity provides zero ROI, (return on investment), and any MBA will point out that "it is all about ROI". The result is that if we all cut consumption to conserve, the utilities do "need" to increase prices, or find other buyers. The smart meters will provide a new means to increase prices when the demand is highest, which will certainly increase both profits and ROI. So the smart meters really benefit shareholders, boards, and officer,s of the power companies, but not folks like me, the lowly power customer.
I would also point out that I have been asking for an explanation about how the smart meter will benefit me for more than a year, and so far nobody has attempted to explain how I will benefit. So, once again, can anybody explain the benefit to me?
Those are excellent points, Rob. The collateral damage of energy usage is considerable if hard to calculate. And you're also right about the savings on reduced use. Like any reduction in consumption -- whether it's reduction in energy use or reduction in spending -- the savings goes straight to the bottom line.
Well, for many years, the only incentive for power companies was to sell more power. Remember the "All-Electric Dream Home" of the 1950's?
Now, at least in some jurisdictions, utilities can be rewarded for selling "negawatts": insulation and other ways of reducing consumption. As Amory Lovins has said for years, the cheapest power of all is the power we don't use: conservation costs less than building new power plants.
Yes, it hurts when rates go up. But if we accounted for the true cost of generating and using power, considering climate disruption, mercury poisoning, the depletion of resources, etc., power would probably cost a lot more. And we would have much bigger incentives to conserve it.
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