No Pill for Phil
groundhog saw its shadow the second day of February. This was the scene.
The Pennsylvania critter emerged from his den, the sun was out so he saw
his shadow, became frightened and quickly retreated to his deep hole in
Folklore has it
that all that activity calls for six more weeks of winter weather. For
energy users across the country, the retreat of "Phil the Groundhog" was
The cost of natural
gas rose to record highs this winter. In
addition, many experienced energy shortages and blackouts. Everyone was
praying for an early spring.
If we are not
careful, consumers in many states could find themselves enduring high-cost
electricity and power blackouts. Thinking of that, some wonder if consumers
would be willing to pay a lot more for electricity to avoid a blackout?
If so, would the option to purchase electricity at any price be a choice
for all consumers?
For some, we think
the answer to the first part of the question may be yes. We know the answer
to the second part would be no.
In spite of all
these emerging energy problems, some still recklessly promote moving the
electric utility industry away from state regulation and its inherent
consumer protections. They choose to ignore the importance of utility
responsibility as it relates to a reliable energy supply.
find out about the term and the obligation to build new generation plants
until it was too late. Having discovered its importance, they now find
they cannot retrieve what they gave away. As they now desperately scramble
for short-term fixes that sound good they will probably wind up making
Many who pushed
states into deregulation because it sounded good are now behaving like
Punxsutawney Phil. What Phil saw in the bright sunlight scared him so
he quickly retreated.
Those who recklessly
pushed for deregulation in California are now seeing their flawed deregulation
theories exposed to the light of day. The resulting high electric rates
and blackouts cast a shadow of suspicion over them. They quickly retreated
and are now digging themselves into a deeper hole.
There is no pill
that Phil can take to cure his fear of shadows. The cure for flawed law
and electric utility deregulation is very expensive. One of my mother's
pearls of wisdom, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," fits
this situation very well.
medicine we recommend for those exposed to the "if it sounds good, lets
do it" virus, is a strong dose of awareness and common sense. We further
suggest that the preventative medicine be taken daily for as long as the
debate on this critical issue continues.
Stork was executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.