Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pay for power mañana

The Illinois state legislature is aiming to throw us all to the wolves -- in a few years -- in order to make themselves look saintly this week.

A House committee is having what some might call "serious discussions" about refreezing power rates and fining the power companies for charging more than they did in the distant past (before the last freeze forced us to deal with a screwed-up state-throttled monopoly by driving away any likelihood that competitors would want to come in and set up in a free market system).

Hey, this freeze thing worked so well in the 1990s in California and other states, to shut down business as usual and get power to the people... and, under this policy here in IL, we certainly had a lot of new developments in the industry, didn't we? I see wind farms and alternative fuel agencies positively dotting the landscape here. I also occasionally see my cats sprout wings and see Mickey Mouse grazing in my garden. But that's not important right now.

This plan is brilliant!

The plan also would fire the Illinois Commerce Commission members who approved the higher rates and create a new Illinois Power Authority to oversee power buying and eventually power production.

So they aim to fire the last remaining rational people on the Commission, in favor of their political cronies, is that it? And then we make it the job of the State of Illinois to guarantee us our electricity and gas... because our state's bureaucracy is so swift and efficient and so very, verrrry honest.

The utilities complained it would destroy the industry, and ComEd President Frank Clark called the idea -- quote "pure lunacy."

But the bill's sponsor says it could be a good way for lawmakers to force the utilities to offer a larger rate relief package for consumers.

I love it when our elected officials try to help me. It's a given, then, that tax rates will increase and more downstate industry will flee, so I'll have a really good excuse for being unemployed and on public assistance until I'm dead. And that is just absolutely dandy for my mental balance, innit?

I hope the new Illinois Power Authority is as forward-thinking as the Chicago Transit Authority, or the Veteran's Administration, or the Department of Human Services (especially the Department of Mental Health Services, now that they've been forced regularly to reduce the number and size of their available facilities to whatever is still standing in Chicago, and we downstaters can go hang. Literally.)

If so, we'll be increasing our carbon footprint dramatically soon, as we burn all the trees and corn cobs in the region to heat and cook and the like.

Who needs utility companies unencumbered by unreasonable penalties? Who needs companies financially and by law able to develop reliable, modern power sources? We have the state legislators to patronize us, instead. That will keep us hot on a cold January night.

Too bad it's nearly June and nearly 90˚.

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