« Border Conflict | Main | What to Expect With Housing Manipulation »

February 23, 2015


Bruce Dickinson

Joe, Joe, Joe, you are far too nice for your own good. The answer, to succinctly put it is F-No and guess what, Bruce Dickinson just saved $300,000 for San Mateo and millions for San Mateo County “customers” of renewable energy. I’m no Nobel Prize for Economics winner, but fellas, everyone knows that green power is the most expensive to produce. The cheapest power is from coal and the nukes, and it’s not like that here but everywhere in the world. Solar and wind are really high cost. So where do these “green power” companies get their money to purchase the most expensive power? From you! Folks, this is one giant shell game of subsidies, cross-subsidies, Federal incentives, etc all derived from your tax dollars and utility bills to make you think you are saving money and the environment. Well, you are also employing thousands of people whose only jobs are to redistribute wealth. Guys, power generation comes from power generation companies and utilities, whether it’s wind, solar, methane, coal, nat gas, or nukes…yes different companies involved, but that’s where it comes from or from the roof of your home, if you have a solar system installed. Any county or regional cooperative is living off some subsidies or tax break as they have no ability to generate power themselves. How does one obtain the cheapest goods or services? Sorry to sound like Arrowhead Water, but you go right to the source (and skip the middlemen). Wind and Solar will be produced by companies who also have incentives to produce them and they can compete with anyone else (and they are subsidized by the feds anyway, and where do the Feds get their money?). This renewable power production is going to happen no matter what and that power will feed into the grid in addition to the cheaper power sources currently available to all customers. An “open market” for renewable energy is still the most expensive energy. So any “cooperative” is not going to save people money over time because the only thing between your wallet and the “power source" are thousands of employees who have to get paid to push paper and shuffle money around. These entities cannot have the same scale economics as someone in the power business, so the only thing that would really change is your bill and your belief that you are making a difference.


Thanks, Bruce. I do not often get described as "too nice" so I appreciate that!

My analogy to the telecom industry fits with a WSJ editorial today that discussed municipally-owned broadband and cable entities. Check this out:

Local governments are forever seeking opportunities to diversify their, er, investments in sports stadiums, convention centers and such. Many lately have been getting into broadband. Municipalities have built some 180 fiber-optic networks in addition to about 75 cable services. Most operate as de facto public utilities with an implicit, if not explicit, taxpayer backstop......

Rather than driving competition, municipal broadband can undercut the private market. Because they benefit from public financing and right-of-way, munis can price services below private carriers. Like other cities, Cedar Falls financed its broadband via tax-exempt municipal bonds, loans from the public electric utility and federal grants.

This puts taxpayers and in some cases electric-utility ratepayers on the hook if the ventures go belly up. Taxpayers in Monticello, Minnesota, had to bail out their government-run FiberNet after it defaulted on municipal bonds. The publicly financed network in Groton, Connecticut, was sold to private investors at a $30 million loss. Google paid $1 for the failed municipal broadband enterprise in Provo, which cost taxpayers $60 million.


A joint venture to buy clean energy in bulk called Community Choice Aggregation was given the green light Tuesday by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which approved spending $300,000 for the program.

The Office of Sustainability will use the money to complete the first phase of a three-phased project to form the program.

Currently, half of the county’s 20 cities have passed resolutions to participate in a process that would ultimately result in the formation of a joint powers authority to act as an independent nonprofit to buy clean energy such as solar or wind using Pacific Gas and Electric’s infrastructure.

The other 10 cities in the county have either agendized the item or provided verbal confirmation to participate, said Jim Eggemeyer with the Office of Sustainability.

Cities are now collecting data on megawatt hours and peak demand levels from its electricity users.

There are currently three of the aggregation programs operating in the state now including Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Energy. A third, Lancaster Choice Energy in Los Angeles County will start in spring.

A JPA between the county and cities could be formed later this year and the program could launch by September 2016, Eggemeyer said.

Launching the program is expected to cost $1.5 million but that money could be recouped by ratepayers in the future, said Supervisor Dave Pine, who first brought the idea to the board.


Bruce Dickinson

Bruce Dickinson must chuckle, yes laugh at the nice word-smithing coming out of politicians' mouths. I've been around too many record and intellectual property contacts and have learned one thing really early on, which is: REFW! this stands for "Read Every F'n Word" . Notice is what is said, or not said in the article above, for example "COULD be recouped" "MIGHT push PG&E" "corporate giants are IN THE PROCESS" "in MOST instances" "COMPETITIVE" and the worst of all "according to PINE'S OFFICE". Well, according to Bruce Dickinson, I see lots of words, vagaries, assumptions, caveated language, but let's see some hard and fast statistics that are made by an independent economist or statistician, which as you will note, there are no real numbers in the article (and 100% and 50/50 mix don't count, sorry).

As Joe, a man who knows how these subsidy type systems work (and gave some great examples....3 cowbell rings for you there) mentioned, you gotta pay the piper and while some customers may "save" in one way, others may end up paying for it, whether in taxes, other city revenue generation schemes, interest on bonds, etc or some other group of people ends up paying for another. It's about whether resources are properly allocated overall and benefit everyone on average. Folks, you cannot produce cheap renewable power yet without a lot of infrastructure investment, hence the need for Federal incentives and subsidies to do so. Renewable energy is not cheap, period.

Guys I hate to break it to you, but the House and Senate are run by lawyers who are very successful lawyers, but terrible businesspeople and "economists" if I can even use that term. As you go down the political food chain into oftentimes sleazy local politics, the intelligence and talent nose dives, on average mind you, there are always exceptions. I actually think Burlingame out-IQs the county politicians because the City Councilmembers are effectively volunteers, many with day jobs. Their problem is that they and their family members or developer pals are far too greedy and interested in their own economics over the good of the City and its residents. No different than Anytown, USA, mind you. This is why blogs such as this one are useful and meant to inform and serve as a natural check to the mini-power and money grabs that inevitably occur in local government. This is why I have been a big fan of Mr. Cohen and Mrs. Baylock, because it was clear they were in it to SOLELY better the community. No self-serving strings attached! These are the kind of politicians we need, ones that are there to serve you rather than themselves, in a true benevolent and stewardship role.

Bruce Dickinson approves this message.


@ Resident We would prefer not to repost full articles from newspapers especially without attribution so we have truncated your original post and added the link to the original Daily Journal article. Please use that approach in the future.

@Doug Radke It is pretty straightforward to click on the Category on the right hand side to select an appropriate post to add your comment. Posting Hospital Board info on a Green Power post is not helpful. We have moved your comment to a better place. Please use that approach in the future.

Go Hydro!

"everyone knows that green power is the most expensive to produce..."

Not true, my friend BD.

During rainier years, independent power groups like Silicon Valley Power in Santa Clara (part of the Northern California Power Agency) get 60% of their power from Hydro.

Joe, I agree those telecom tariffs are brutally complicated. It's been interesting to watch the FCC be tough during my MCI years, and then loosen up when they were convinced that VOIP had created enough competition (and partially caused dozens of telecoms to go bankrupt), now we're back with more gov't regulation per Uncle Obama and his so-called Net Neutrality.

I'm 100% independent, but I do feel taxed enough already - it's true.

Go Hydro!


Revisiting the subject from my February post, here is another aspect of clean power costs that is finally seeing the light of day. I've grabbed a few key sentences from the DJ article, but do click through to get it all:

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a fee hike request to Pacific Gas and Electric Thursday that will raise opt-out fees for clean energy programs by 95 percent.

The opt-out fee PG&E currently charges is $6.70 a month but it requested that the CPUC let it set the rate at $13 a month, which the commission approved at its meeting in San Francisco as hundreds of individuals protested the hike outside.

San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine spoke out against the hike at the meeting but told the Daily Journal the outcome was expected. The commission approved the request on a 4-1 vote.

The approval will not delay the start of San Mateo County’s Peninsula Clean Energy, which is scheduled to launch late next year, Pine said. About 297,000 PG&E customers in San Mateo County could get their energy from renewable sources in less than a year but will have to opt out of receiving power from the utility.

The fee is designed “to ensure costs are shared by customers who depart and those who remain,” said utility spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

About the Voice

  • The Burlingame Voice is dedicated to informing and empowering the Burlingame community. Our blog is a public forum for the discussion of issues that relate to Burlingame, California. On it you can read and comment on important city issues.

    Note: Opinions posted on the Burlingame Voice Blog are those of the poster and not necessarily the opinion of the editorial board of the Burlingame Voice. See Terms of Use

Contributing to the Voice

  • If you would like more information on the Burlingame Voice, send an email to editor@burlingamevoice.com with your request or question. We appreciate your interest.

    Authors may login here.

    For help posting to the Voice, see our tutorial.