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How To Socialize America’s Energy


How To Socialize America’s Energy

Kate Aronoff

Coming out of last December’s landmark climate negotiations in Paris, the question is no longer if societies will shift toward renewables, but when and how. For all the limitations of the deal—that it is largely unenforceable, contains only passing reference to human and indigenous rights, and treats historical polluters with kid gloves—its clearest and most redeeming feature is that it signals an end to the fossil fuel era.


A nation that meddles in Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, etc. ain't likely to socialize its grid, though I'm not saying it shouldn't.


Thanks Kate, very encouraging. In early 90's we built a house in a energy co-op and earned credits. We the people have to be the "will" to make it happen.


I was so encouraged and then you brought me back to reality.


Very interesting article. Thank you Kate Aronoff.
A few things that come to mind amount to acculturation of "fetish" rationalizations fed by "exceptionalism". In this case unhinged political ideology as a result of unhinged and stunningly secretive practices of economic ideologies. These derivative patterns are so toxic and inbred that they seem incapable of breaking free from their self-imposed ethereal prison.

One aspect of fetishes is that they never seem to exist as 'stand-alone' phenomena. They further seem, oddly enough, expressions characteristic of ideologue impotence.
They tend to seem to run in tandem with some preexisting normalization form of demonization through power centralized media, exclusionary and coveted power from ill gotten advantage, without which the ideology could not survive. It is not infrequently a polar opposite of what one would otherwise consider a sound basis of capacity to love in mutuality for well being that fosters creativity.

The broader social environment we are wrestling with appears to be the denial of the impotence and violence of the dominant economic model that celebrates a dependency on perverse incentives. This seems epitomized by the current priorities of DWS of the DNC and the Clinton campaign - and rumors of now offering the 'bubba' model of Hillary wanting to bring Bill Clinton back in to deal with the economic platform of her campaign. The first caveat and red flag that comes to mind is the situation and practices exercised by Bill Clinton in Haiti - which is tantamount to a 15th century colonialization of the future, as far I can see.

The models explored in Aronoff's article strike me as being well worth working for. The sheer diversity of scaling and adapting an REC type of structure that are freed from the fetishization of the privatized profit motive is practical and agile. These would seem to be of primary importance particularly given the devastating consequences we currently face and must address from the last Clinton admin.


Aronoff's proposals are so New Dealish that the GOP will pretend they don't exist and the Democrats will (in order to prove to their corporate owners that they are making progress destroying whatever remains of the New Deal) make sure they consign these proposals to the incrementalism dustbin.


It is difficult to take an article about socializing energy in the US seriously when that article does not even mention the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is an actual socialized electricity company amongst other things.


I see many statements in Kate Aronoff's article. Many of them are crosswise to statements that I see elsewhere.
* To state one fact about Kate's article that I doubt anyone will dispute, she and many others are hostile to fossil fuels.

  • She and many others claim that solar power is cheaper than fossil fuels. How does she figure? Solar gets tax breaks. Fossil fuel does not. If solar really was a better deal than fossil, then we would see it taking over markets like cell-phones have taken business from landlines, Southwest Airlines has taken business from legacy airlines and Wal-Mart has taken business from old time retail, without any political advocacy needed. But we don't see that. Lack of affirmative evidence should cause one to question your assumptions.

  • Kate lauds Germany's Energiewende program. But I have heard elsewhere that Germany's electric cost is among the highest in Europe, and Europe's costs are among the highest in the developed world. The effects of Germany's energy program has caused a new word to enter the German language and German politics, 'Energy poverty', and Germans have been cutting down trees to burn in their stoves.

  • It has been years since I've heard Greens talk about Conservation. But their goals of keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and of 'degrowing' the economy will require that we all get reacquainted with our feet, with cardigan sweaters in the winter, and perhaps with red-neck field agricultural labor under a hot sun.


Now just where, oh where, did ya' see 'em crosswise statements ya' been claimin' to see? And that 'elsewhere' stuff about the German energy programs ya' been fretted about? Lands o' goshin' but we'd all love to know just where ya' saw that there stuff at. Was it part of Exxon's propaganda...ya' know, before they were showed to be liars. And lyin' is a sin. And if fossil fuel companies, known around these parts as monopolies to honest folks...you do know some honest folks, don't ya (?)...if them there fossil fuels were such a 'better deal', as ya' like to say, why do so many folks want to keep the stuff in the ground? Could ya' tell me that? And why do ya' say them fossil fuel monopolies don't get tax breaks? Don't ya' know lyin' is a sin?

Is the real reason ya' got to be usin' all that extra Preparation H is because the article mentioned stuff about labor and socializin' energy and all. It's that soicalizin' thing that gets ya' all itchy, ain't it? Well shoot but ya'll sound like ya' came from the 18th century or somethin'. Are you a time traveler? Did ya' get to see old Abe Lincoln? Did ya'? Yur a funny old bird, you are. Are ya' one of them there troll critters? You know...the kind that lie all the time. And lyin's a sin, alright. Sure is.


You should venture out of the choir-room and hear a bit of some other points of view. (Then other things hitting you upside the head won't be such a surprise...)

To take the easiest, Google 'Germany Energy Poverty' turns up many hits, such as
Germany's Energy Poverty: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good
Germany's Energy Policy Is Failing the Poor, While Being a Poor Way to Help the Climate
Generating German Energy Poverty

Note the fifth bullet point on the first page:
Wood robberies and tree theft are on the rise. More Germans are buying wood- and coal-burning stoves to offset the high cost of heat in winter.

As for

It is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The Greens calling for such are typically quite well off compared to everyone else. They've got theirs.


I'm not sure that the description of the situation in Nevada is accurate. The problem is simply that the nobody producing a bulk commodity should expect the wholesale buyer-middleman to pay the full retail price for the commodity - which is what happens with net-metering. So while the Nevada fees may indeed be punitive and so should be rejected by their PUC, some kind of sell/buy differential pricing is perfectly reasonable - all those wires and poles transformers and the like are expensive to maintain.

Or, if solar development is regarded as important (and it is) then public money price-supports are warranted.


Actually, the generating utilities are preferring nuclear power plants to any other way of generating electricity right now. A generator in my area, First Energy, is shutting down coal-burning power plants left and right - but is investing in a hundreds-millon dollar upgrade to a local nuclear plant to keep it running for another 20-30 years.

Lots of investment in wind too.


The Bonneville Power Administration in the NW too.

But the TVA's status as a public governmental agency has not stopped its power generation historically being heavily dependent on coal - and some pretty dirty coal at that. One problem is that the mid-south of the US is a rather wind-poor area, and being a wet area it does not get a lot of sunshine either. But at least they are getting more nuclear capacity on line with hydro backing that up.


The voters in Germany are a lot smarter than the voters in the USA....I cant believe we have let our government take advantage of aLL ITS CITIZENS just so a few can get rich and stay rich...In Nevada the government caved in to power companies over the use of Solar....Why..Because they own the lawmakers...Why would any lawmakers side against its citizens benefits just so a few can stay rich...I will tell you why....corporate money and stupid voters.


Without campaign finance reform we will never root out these greedy power companies.....There is mega millions to be made off the public and republicans and a lot of democrats have been bought off by these companies.....As long as we the people allow these crooks to fleece us they will...If profits can me made they will be made.....We are the only ones who can stop them.....All the money these utility companies make pays for a lot of bogus advertising clouding the air waves with useless rhetoric yelling there favorite word (socialism) this word scares the stupid voters into voting against their own interests...or a some kind of fanatical nonsense about religious freedom BS.or They find an enemy to hate like Family Planning Clinics or gays or transgenders the new enemy...always some kind of enemy they try to create to justify their evil..They can afford to waste millions on political candidates while we foot the bill for this evil...


Privatized utilities can't keep panels off roofs forever. Time to take our cities back, haven't had a bad experience with a public utility yet, private utilities are monopolistic scum. State lawmakers are often the worst at taking ducats from the fossil fuel industry, better to make a difference locally if you can.


Given that US taxpayers subsidize the fossil fuel energy directly at $37.5 billion annually, and that figure does not take into account the associated healthcare costs from bad air quality, the billions in clean-up following the new mega-storms becoming more common because of fossil fuel burning, and the costs of cleaning up their inevitable spills, whether it's oil into the sea and city storm drains, coal slurry burying communities, or hot and cold running flammable water, I would double down on the tax credits solar is getting ASAP. Not only is it cheaper by a long shot, it might actually save us from extinction.

The reason the US not transitioning to a green economy is because the extraction industries, along with Wall St, big pharma, big ag, etc own our government.


Because technology improves our sustainable options regularly, bringing down their size, overall costs, costs of maintenance, and their carbon footprints during the manufacturing process. Plus, the array of sustainable options can be deployed, as the article says, in large farms, in smaller scale to power communities, or in your own backyard. And replacing existing sustainable infrastructure with better sustainable infrastructure as it develops is far easier than picking up a dam or nuclear plant and moving it. Check out these Vortex Bladeless turbines:


Another way to phrase it, view it: When someone first put up a power supply on their house and began feeding it into the grid, the power company objected. Not, in strict terms, against getting power, but for two other reasons:
1) Was the power voltage regulated and 60 Hz synchronized with what the power company was supplying? A quality control issue.
2) The initial version amounted to the most expensive source of electricity for the grid. The power company would rather buy any other electricity before THAT.
-- Thus when the power company discovered this first instances, they came and installed a ratchet wheel on the electric meter, and a second electric meter with the opposite ratchet wheel, to record what they sell and what the customer is selling them. Different rates.
Of course, people always have the right to disconnect from the grid. And to organize their own local neighborhood grids that are disconnected from the private company's grid. That might fit your belief system.