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Breaking Bread with Lost Sheep

By June 30, 2019November 5th, 2021Energy Rant

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” – Mathew 9:10-12.[1]

I was lost in the wilderness in search of inspiration for another post when Jesus came to mind. So I thought, “Jesus ate with sinners. I’ll look that up and see what I find.” What I found was another conundrum. What is the difference between tax collectors and sinners?

Speaking of the sick, that’s just what I used to describe why efficiency programs are needed – prevention of higher costs later – as described as Farce Number 1, Stay in Your Lane, Bro.

I spend a good deal and growing bit of time eating with the sinners and dwelling among the impure, so to speak. It is better to do it in peacetime than before the war has broken out. I engage with those likely to oppose efficiency as a handout or welfare program. Entities include think tanks, media, self-proclaimed reporters, and legislators. There are many sinners among those ranks.

If you want to change minds in your favor, the NRDC, ACEEE, et al., are not the places to go. They are good resources for information, but there are no minds to change. You need to go to the opposition parties, political organizations and think tanks.

Philosophically Equal

I have a pair of articles to use in this demonstration. The first is from The Mackinac Center for Public Policy – Green Jobs: The Antithesis of Efficiency. It is a quick read and worthwhile. The crux is that green and clean energy jobs numbers include finagled data. This may shock you, but I don’t disagree. Job creation can be easily debunked as a sound reason for our existence.

The article’s first sentence is, “The best way to measure the usefulness of energy sources is not by the number of jobs they create, but by the benefits they provide.” I agree. See? This is how to start a conversation with someone. Think of the big picture. Understand where they are coming from.

Companies, shareholders, and people are not in business to hire people and create jobs, as the author states. Again, I agree completely. We are in business to create value, net of all costs. Value may include commodity extraction or production, manufacturing or refining materials into something more valuable, and of course, deploying expertise to reduce cost through many channels:

  • Providing energy and systems expertise to operate with lower cost and higher profit[2].
  • Connecting customers with expertise, contractors, or products.
  • Providing tools and resources such as dashboards and tracking tools, and showing customers how to leverage it to teach people to fish for themselves.
  • Etc.

Producing value requires varying levels of labor and material cost – among competitors for the same or similar products and services. For instance, many airport bars and restaurants have the iPad menu and ordering platforms. You can go to one of these places and get the same type of meal and drink as you can get in other restaurants in the airport with living, breathing wait staff. Which do you prefer? I can tell you; machines will never replace decent wait staff.

Similarly, in deregulated energy markets, retail energy companies offer all sorts of services to help customers reduce energy cost – a total energy package. In the goofy world of the top-to-bottom regulated energy market, this has been frowned upon and shot down by utility commissions, and we are seeing the effects. The deregulated provider makes money on ALL energy services while the regulated provider only makes money on building stuff. Talk about extreme differences! Did you factor that, Mackinac?

Jonesing Efficiency Away

The second article, No Free Lunch with Energy Efficiency, is from the Santa Fe New Mexican, written by a guy who frequently contributes to Public Utilities Fortnightly. After reading the title and thinking to myself, “no kidding,” I would read this article, and form a plan of inside-out attack. Allow me to quickly address his points.

  • “Academic reviews of energy efficiency programs conclude that such programs are not the ‘low-hanging’ fruit that many people believe.” Thought: can you give me an example? You can’t get away with this kind of nameless sourcing. This is what the media does today, and it’s why trust in them is at an all-time low.
  • He writes, people would buy efficient equipment regardless of efficiency programs. What propelled manufacturers to make the efficient product cost effective?
  • He cites another self-written study that claims utilities do not account for the hidden cost of audits? Is Jim Jones, his covert researcher? Clearly, he’s drinking someone’s Kool-Aid because that is 110% false.
  • “These programs are politically popular.” More Kool-Aid, please. This is NOT the case in many jurisdictions.

This second example is more of a problem because the author sees what he wants and doesn’t cite his references. In my estimation, he’s a dug-in, old-school person. He would be a much tougher sell. I might pass in search of someone who is more open-minded.


[2] Notice I didn’t say “efficiently,” which is a poorly understood word among the public.

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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