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It’s Too Bad That — Why Now?
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It’s Too Bad That

the Water Department is one of those wasteful, inefficient government agencies. 😈

Four hours, folks, four hours from when I called to when they left, after verifying there was a leak; calling the other utilities to locate their lines in the area because digging was going to be necessary; digging down to the water main through the tree roots; fixing the pipe; filling the hole; and heading back to the barn.

Earlier this week a circuit breaker popped on a transformer on the next block. People were without power from 8AM, until 3PM. Resetting the circuit breaker requires one guy with a long, non-conductive pole that has a hook on top, to use the hook and grab a ring and pull down, but it took the private utility company 7 hours to make that happen.

The public utilities still have people to do this kind of work. The private utilities have cut their work force to increase profits, and people have to wait… in the heat… and humidity… while the ice cream melts.

Sorry, I forgot, the government is wasteful and inefficient, right?


1 Badtux { 08.27.09 at 4:16 pm }

I live in Santa Clara, where we have Silicon Valley Power (Santa Clara Municipal Utilities) as our provider. Not only is the power 40% cheaper than when I lived in next-door Mountain View (PG&E territory, as in, “Pretty Grim Energy”), but it’s also *much* more reliable. Santa Clara has long-standing power contracts for baseline power and their own power plant for peaking power, and is properly staffed, so even when the backhoe broke our neighborhood’s main power line (which is underground) while digging foundations for the new townhouse complex next door, the power was off less than two hours before it was fixed.

Not only that, but SVP is incredibly profitable. It returns tens of millions of dollars per year of “in lieu of taxes” payments to the city treasury, DESPITE being 40% cheaper than PG&E power — far more “in lieu of taxes” payments than the City of Mountain View gets in taxes out of PG&E. That new power plant that was finished a few years back? Paid for in *CASH*, out of the maintenance fund.

Whenever people tell me “government can’t work?” I just say to them, “Santa Clara Municipal Utilities, motherf**ker. 60% the price, better service, reduces my taxes by 20% compared to PG&E territory.” Is it any wonder that private power providers spend so much time and effort trying to prevent municipal utility companies from providing power for their residents?!

– Badtux the Practical Penguin
.-= last blog ..So why don’t I comment on your blog? =-.

2 Bryan { 08.27.09 at 4:38 pm }

Gulf Power is great after a hurricane because they are part of Southern Companies which is a huge provider in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, but day-to-day it’s a crap shoot on the power. At certain times of day my UPS goes into “nagging mode” because the voltage has dropped below the threshold, and I can see the lights dim. That’s some third world garbage.

It’s still better than San Diego Gas & Electric, which was patterned after Tijuana’s colonias. You could almost see the extension cords running from pole to pole. There are areas on its system that have no secondary source of power, and when the single line is affected everything is down.

My younger brother has municipal power in New York, and they can buy hydroelectric from Niagara Falls. The rate is half what the surrounding area pays.

Private ownership of utilities is just dumb. They are monopolies, and monopolies should be subject to total government control.

3 hipparchia { 08.27.09 at 8:35 pm }

gulf power is great after a hurricane because the utility companies all have mutual aid agreements and ship in lots and lots of workers from other parts of the country, and even from canada. in return, we send people north to help out after ice storms.
.-= last blog ..Fortunately, =-.

4 Bryan { 08.27.09 at 9:01 pm }

I think it was a New Jersey crew that restored my power after Ivan. The local crews tend to deal with the main lines, while the other guys take over the “retail” fixes, but, yes, there are massive numbers of outside people after hurricanes.

5 hipparchia { 08.27.09 at 9:06 pm }

we had people here from montreal after at least one hurricane [might have been erin/opal, i can’t remember, the memories all run together after awhile].
.-= last blog ..Fortunately, =-.

6 cookie jill { 08.27.09 at 9:54 pm }

I miss SMUD.


and every Californian should thank the Snohomish County PUD as they were the ones that actually taped Enron folks laughing about stickin’ it to the State and brought forward evidence against them for price rigging/gauging.

.-= last blog ..Santa Barbara is Foodie Festival Central =-.

7 Bryan { 08.27.09 at 10:32 pm }

Yeah, Hipparchia, after the first dozen they are all the same : wind, rain, soul-sucking terror, then back-breaking clean-ups, watching the libertarian/Repubs line the trough to get any free things that anyone might hand out.

Isn’t it nice that someone cares about rate payers, Jill?

Two fires in the Angeles National Forest, one in the San Bernardino, and three fires on Camp Pendleton – good time for a vacation.

8 cookie jill { 08.28.09 at 12:00 am }

Not vacation for me…I’m housesitting for friends who reside in the fire deathtrap known as Mission Canyon. Amazingly beautiful…but scary, scary. It’s dry, hot and the wind is blowing. It’s the type of weather that keeps you on edge knowing that things can go up in a second. The house (we also call it the Ponderosa) is just a stone’s throw away from the site of my friends old home that has burned down 2x.

It’s going to be a long weekend.

Perhaps I shouldn’t watch the Los Angeles coverage of the Rancho PV fire.
.-= last blog ..Santa Barbara is Foodie Festival Central =-.

9 cookie jill { 08.28.09 at 12:03 am }
10 Bryan { 08.28.09 at 12:16 am }

I would probably have dug a slit trench and had a bucket of of water, a heavy wool blanket, a space blanket, and a gas mask in it ready to go if the helicopter didn’t start immediately.

I watched a wildfire shoot up the wall of Mission Valley in San Diego, and logged that as another reason not to live near a canyon.

11 Bryan { 08.28.09 at 12:20 am }

We posted at the same time, Jill. That looks like fuel to me. If there had just been a couple of inches of rain over the past week I might feel different, but not under current conditions.

12 cookie jill { 08.28.09 at 12:47 am }

Yeah…I’m not counting on much sleep. It’s one thing if it’s your home…it’s different when it’s someone elses and you aren’t truly comfortable. Thankfully I know the area…and my gas tank is full for getaway.

I’m kitty sitting, too, and the coyote in the drive way yesterday afternoon didn’t ease our minds, either.
.-= last blog ..Santa Barbara is Foodie Festival Central =-.

13 Bryan { 08.28.09 at 2:02 pm }

Yep, the fires move a lot of animals around, and not always animals you like.

The wind would help clear the smoke, but it will also kick up the fires, and a lot of new ones have popped up. CalFire currently lists 11 active fires, and RPV isn’t yet on the list.