While conservation may help California in the short term it is not going to have much impact on total energy cost to the consumer. When I was in the industry years ago it was apparent then that there was trouble ahead. First of all the rates are set so that the users that are the most expensive to service pay the lowest cost. That is the residential users pay less per watt that the big manufacturing plants do. Second the power companies have so many fixed cost to cover that if usage drops significantly rates per watt will have to rise correspondingly. At the time I was there it was costing more than $1,000 per day for each maintenance crew. Every pole, transformer, substation, etc. etc. is taxed year after year. There are many taxes on the average utility bill. If usage drops guess what is going to happen to these taxes?
All of this goes right into the rate base. I don’t know why California is forcing their utilities to the brink of bankruptcy unless they are trying to force businesses and investors out of the state. A lot of investment money comes from outside the USA, I don’t think these people are going to say yes lets build a new plant in California where we have to deal with these problems when there are states doing back flips to attract new industry.
As far as alternative energy sources go except for a maverick like myself that wants to live off the grid there is nothing out there that will even come close to replacing current coal and nuclear plants. While I hope to have several different types of generating capability on my little farm, I live in the shadow of a large nuclear generating plant and it doesn’t bother me a bit. What really scares me is the reactor over at our local university 20 miles away. Every time the Feds come to inspect they find multiple violations. The worst violation I can remember at the power plant is when one of the contract guards didn’t have a high school diploma. I would even rather live next to a nuclear plant than a coal fired plant and natural gas releases a lot of radon into the atmosphere, who needs that?
If it was up to me I would say the best all around solution is more efficient usage of power and better generating plants. Sun Power in Athens Ohio developed a refrigerator that is far more efficient that what we have now and doesn’t use CFC’s. Where is it? The new white LEDs are far better then the little florescent bulbs. There is motor technology that is far more efficient then what we have. Also unless some real break through technology comes along eventually we will be forced to develop the breeder reactor and reprocess our fuel. While we are at it why not standardize the design so they wouldn’t cost so much? I just don’t see the average citizen living in a yurt and riding a bicycle 30 miles each way to commute. As for me I’m going to live in my solar heated dome, ride my electric power assist tadpole trike, raise my own veggies and play in my shop. :)
I don’t think this is an accurate portrayal of an energy-conserving citizen. I live in an apartment with a TV, VCR, computer, refrigerator, microwave oven, and ample lighting. My electricity usage is 30 kw per MONTH. How? All my bulbs are compact fluorescents, I have a small refrigerator (but large enough for me), I turn off lights when I leave a room, and I turn off appliances when I’m not using them. That’s it.
I am SICK of the myth that conservation equals no modern conveniences. This myth leads people to believe that conservation and energy efficiency are weak solutions. I use about 1/6th the electrical energy of the average person in the U.S.A. But I do not lack modern conveniences.