Bigger Electricity, by Eric Peters

If you don’t like big centralized industries with monopolistic pricing power, you’ve got to hate electric utilities. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

It’s interesting that the same voices which once keened in feigned outrage about the supposed chokehold applied by “Big Oil” to the prostrate American consumer are silent about its replacement:

Bigger Electricity.

Their silence about this being proof that their outrage was feigned.

It is difficult to conceive of anything more centralized and consolidated – morebig– than the grid. Of which there are just a few regional ones –  including Eastern, Western and Texas – controlled by a handful of state-permitted utilities that will have – that already have – the ability to meter the power we’re permitted to have and the power to charge us what they determine to be a “fair” price for it.

Adjustable at their whim – both in terms of price and availability.

That which can be turned on can be turned off.

Or turned down.

When demand becomes too high, the utilities can (and do) decrease supply. Or raise the cost, which achieves the same.

There is no  – as in zero – free market for electricity.

It is a wholly state-corporate “partnership,” the actual thing the keeners accused “Big Oil” of being, which it never was.

With electricity, you get what’s provided, according to the terms and conditions of the single-source provider (the utility which “serves” your area) and you pay whatever it says you will pay. If you don’t pay what they say you’ll pay, there is no option to pay less.

You can stop patronizing the extortionate Exxon station down the road – in favor of the more reasonable Speedway a couple of blocks farther down the same road.

There is competition.

There are alternatives.

You cannot seek better/cheaper electricity service.

You are plugged in – like Neo, within his Matrix.

Without alternatives.

Big Electricity is much more amenable to centralization than Big Oil, for several physical reasons – chief among them being that the mechanism of distribution is necessarily centralized.

Electricity is generated at a utility plant, then transmitted via a network of cables and substations and so on to each individual user (residential and commercial). All connected to the same source of generating capacity, over which you have no control – and no thus, no alternative.

In many areas, you haven’t even got the option to disconnect from the grid. Local codes require you to keep a meter hooked up.

Which keeps their hooks, in you.

Gasoline and diesel are refined at centralized facilities, too. But their distribution is decentralized. Tanker trucks bring the energy to wherever there is demand – at a price the market will bear.

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