A wonderful think piece in Coyote Blog got me to thinking about electrical energy, suburbia, Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and the Salt River project (to name a few). But it really got me to thinking about California.
California has a lot going for it. It has Six Flags Magic Mountain with all those wonderful roller coasters, and, and, and, well, I'm sure something else will come to mind.
California is also a state where NIMBY is a way of life. Californians want all the benefits society can offer, but none of the costs. They want the lion's share of the water that flows down the Colorado, but don't build the infrastructure to capture and reuse the plentiful rain water that falls in the southern part of the state; it is so much easier to let to flow into the oceans. They want plenty of electricity to power their lives, but are unwilling to build any power plants in their state. It is so much better to either build power plants in Arizona, or convince others to build power plants in Arizona.
According to a recently published draft report Governor’s Essential Services Task Force that looked at Natural Gas and Electric Power Services:
Arizona currently has 33 power plants consisting of 240 generators with a total capacity of 21,832 megawatts (MW, equal to one million watts). Eleven, or one-third, of the existing plants, with an aggregate capacity of 9,090 MW, were constructed since 2001. Arizona utilities own or have rights to 10,294 MW of that generation. The remaining 11,538 MW of capacity is owned by other utilities, independent power producers or merchant affiliates of Arizona utilities. The new plants are primarily owned and operated as merchant plants selling to the wholesale market.
This latter point gets to the heart of my thoughts. Normally, I'm a free market advocate, and if anyone ever spots a truly free market, I'd like to be among the first to know. In one way I suppose that it is fine that California's public utilities have recognized the folly of building power plants in their own state, and there is probably some economic benefit to us for them building them in our state. I want more.
I'm thinking that 10% of the electrical output of any future power plants built in Arizona should go to the benefit of Arizonans. That number is based on capacity, not on output. We get our cut off of the top, it is our air and our water that supports those plants.
I'd like to see that 10% divided as follows:
One-third goes to the state's utilities for them to deliver to the truly needy (as opposed to the institutionally needy), with public reporting on how much they distribute and who gets how much. If a recipient doesn't want everyone to know they got free juice, then they simply don't have to take the free juice.
One-third goes to the state and local governments to reduce their utility bills, and thus the cost of government. They, in turn, must at least pretend to cut their budgets to match the savings and they are not allowed to mess with the program once it is in place. Think of this as a bribe. Government is going to get a cut out of everything, why not do it up front
One-third goes to the people. It is divided among the utility companies and used to reduce the delivered cost of residential energy. This would be done in the form of a credit payable annually, and could only be earned for an owner-occupied residence that is used for a full year. No snowbirds, no renters. Just for full time residents. We cannot allow this to be used to subsidize the snowbirds who contribute very little to the well-being of this state. And don't give me that tourism spending line. I simply don't want to hear it. Snow birds are not tourists. But I digress.
But, I can hear you shouting, that this entire plan is confiscatory.
Sure is. Think of it as a NIMBY tax. A California NIMBY tax.