How can you help your community build a resilient energy system? One of the first steps is to buy back the energy system from the regional power company by condemning it and then municipalizing it (it can be run as a power co-op or as a standard company … The structure really depends on the community.). This moves provides you with the control of the local grid so that your community can:
Ensure higher levels of maintenance (tree trimming, etc.) and faster response to failure. During the two big power outages on the east coast this summer/fall, power was out for much of the region for nearly a week. In many cases, the municipal power companies get power back on to all of their customers in 1/2 the time of the big regional companies.
Cut rates and change energy mix. As a municipal company, you can select the different types of energy you will use locally.
Add advanced micro-grid features. Everything from community energy markets to local energy backup to power smoothing. Extra benefit of this approach: it will prevent the regional power company from using smart grid tech to snoop on everyone in the community by micro-analyzing energy use (which they will then resell to marketing companies or provide to the government w/o warrant for “signature” sniffing).
All of the benefits listed above will double or treble in importance as the global economy nose dives into depression over the next couple of years. So, it’s better to get started early than later.
Here’s a few links from the Boulder Colorado effort to condemn and municipalize it’s power. A combo of bad service and a low level of renewables use prompted the effort (use whatever hooks you need to get it done, but get it done):
Citizen groups do the hard work. A technical group does the modelling and analysis for a municipal grid. They compare rates, costs, and energy mix Here’s an amazingly video of a member of that team, Sam Weaver.
NOTE: Great article in the NYTimes today on how the big regional companies are so focused on acquisitions, regulatory gaming, and extractative finance; they are delivering terrible service.
NOTE: Great pushback in the comments on how tough it is to do this. Basically, crony capitalism (revolving door, bribes, etc.) + regulatory capture (same mindset) + gov’t granted monopoly = lots of opposition.
Monday, November 7, the Washington Post editorial board published its take on the extreme rhetoric the country has been hearing on the defense budget since Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta starting talking about the “doomsday mechanism” that would reduce defense spending. Quoting the newer extreme rhetoric of several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defending their budget ambitions to the eager-to-listen House Armed services Committee, the Washington Post positioned itself foursquare in favor of hysterics. It was with an editorial titled “Defense on the Rocks: Mandated spending cuts could decimate U.S. military might.” Find it here (although at the web link they toned down the title with the more sympathetic “US Defense on the defensive.”) Continue reading “Winslow Wheeler: Military Spending versus Competence”
More than 150 house parties are being planned, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will join the parties by phone and webcast. For those in Manhattan, believe it or not, but there is only ONE event listed (60 Wall St, “the Atrium” which is also accessible from Pine St).
Below is an excellent interview with Anthony DiMaggio in Counterpunch. DiMaggio author ofThe Rise of the Tea Party, due out in November 2011. He uses the “propaganda model” developed by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in their bookManufacturing Consent to document and explain the Tea Party’s organizational dynamics for manufacturing dissent, and he compares these dynamics to those of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Before reading the interview, consider please the following: The forces powering the rage of the Tea Party — the stagnation of incomes and the increasingly unequal distribution of income — were around long before the Tea Party erupted on the national scene.
That the distribution of income had shifted in a very fundamental way toward the wealthy and especially the super-wealthy at the expense of the bottom 80% of the working population was clearly demonstrated in a classic study by Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty (Quarterly Journal of Economics, February 2003, updated in 2009), and subsequently confirmed by many other others, including just last week, on 25 October 2011, by the Congressional Budget Office.
It has also clear for years that inflation-adjusted wage growth that underpinned the improved living standards of great American dream machine sputtered out during the 1970s (see chart below).
So, it is simply beyond dispute that a fundamental change in the income distribution has taken place since the late late 1970s. That change is also correlated with the wave of deregulation, tax cutting, defense spending increases (with a slight interregnum following the Soviet Union’s collapse), and deindustrialization/globalization that took off after 1980 during the Reagan Administration and accelerated during the Clinton and Bush II Administrations.
Below are two eye opening reports/analyses by two of the best counterpunchers in Alexander Cockburn’s and Jeffrey St Clair’s stable of bomb throwers. The subject is Greece: its political/economic crisis and the myths surrounding average Greeks being the cause of its crisis.
In the first, Destroying the Livelihoods of Thirteen Million People: The Myth of Greek Profligacy, my friend Marshall Auerback, argues that the masses of the Greek people (the bottom 80% of a highly unequal income distribution) are being set up as scapegoats to pay for a neo-liberal austerity plan that aimed producing income deflation (instead of a currency devaluation) to improve export competitiveness. Auerback explains why this is really a plan of collective punishment that is guaranteed to fail while shredding what is left of Greece’s social contract.
Phi Beta Iota: One reason why the Electoral Reform and BigBatUSA endeavors are so important NOW, is because if they succeed in the USA, where Internet connectivity, cognitive surplus, and Occupy awaking have converged, the model can be scaled globally very quickly. At root this is about secular corruption. Pope Benedict XVI had a chance to use Assisi creatively but chose the low road.