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Efficiency’s Problem: Cyborgs, Fragments, and Climate

By July 29, 2019November 5th, 2021Energy Rant

The number of bipartisan political issues that can be counted on one finger is shrinking fast. All this while the definition of bipartisan has been lowered to a single vote from the opposing party. Energy efficiency is not among the bipartisan issue (sic). It is unfortunately limited to the left-wing of the political spectrum as once again demonstrated by Ohio where the deep red legislature in House Bill 6 passed a $1.1 billion bailout to keep two nuclear plants afloat, and efficiency – dead.

Ohioans – Screwed, Coming and Going

But there is more. Since it would be unfair to power producers of another stripe, they included a fat subsidy to keep a couple of coal plants open as well. One of them isn’t even in Ohio. Congratulations, Ohioans! You paid extra when prices shot up due to the market’s inelasticity, while power producers took the fortune. Now that the same “free” market turned on the companies that wanted it, you get to pay high prices again because the all-knowing legislature and governor have voted to “save” you money. Did I mention the higher prices you get to pay will stream out of the state to competing Indiana to import coal-fired electricity?

I’m sick and tired of reading about prices rising so customers can save money. Who else gets away with this claptrap? The swamp. Washington DC, where they congratulate themselves for a “spending cut” that is a 13% increase rather than a 13.5% increase.

Furthermore, HB 6 euthanizes efficiency programs. Why? Because these wealth transfer schemes raise prices. Really! Ohio House and Senate Republicans have been trying for years to kill efficiency “saying they are an example of government overreach, raise electricity costs, and are no longer needed thanks to the rise of cheap natural gas.”

That is rich. How about this? “Nuclear and coal subsidies are examples of government overreach, raise electricity costs, and are no longer needed thanks to the rise of cheap natural gas.”

Talk about the cat calling the kettle black. Their blind inebriation for power and ideology has taken over their larynxes. What a heroically asinine quote that was.

By the way, I wonder whether the bailout surcharge will be required to be singled out in a line item on everyone’s electric bill: Governor DeWine Surcharge. Just askin’.



Lawmakers and administrations don’t understand the socialized utility model where the cost to deliver service to each customer varies a lot while all customers in a class pay the same for the service. No one pays their “fair share” – some pay more; some pay less. They don’t understand all customers pay when a transmission line, substation or feeder needs upgrading because of unnecessary congestion. They don’t understand the guy at the end of the line gets a hell of a deal (higher cost to serve) than the guy in the shadow of the nuclear plant. They don’t understand the cost-of-service model, at all.

Wealth transfers are inherent and large within a utility space, but somehow, tiny transfers for efficiency to keep prices low over time is welfare.


Perhaps no other industry is as dispersed, decentralized, and fragmented as firms delivering energy efficiency. We have:

  • Small start-ups
  • Lots of employee-owned firms in the 20-250 head range
  • Tiny slivers of enormous conglomerates
  • Medium-size companies held by private equity
  • Legions of manufacturers and contractors gaining some fraction of their revenue through efficiency

Our ragtag team of Bad News Bears is not organized to educate and twist the arms of robots making law. Competing interests, including renewables, manufacturers, big tech, and farmers, have infinitely more power in the halls of state capitols. Big tech and farmers, for example, will lobby for renewable energy so they can advertise 100% renewable energy consumption, and get retail net metering, respectively – and win, of course. See Wind’s Dramatic Impact on Pricing. All customers in the socialized utility model pay more so Facebook and others can advertise 100% “clean” energy. It’s Robin Hood’s evil twin.

Climate Change

Our industry used to be more like farming constituency. Neither side of the spectrum trashes farmers, and they shouldn’t be trashed (this is one reason they are so powerful). On the opposite end, trashing big oil, pharma, and big tech is bipartisan. At the same time, the cyborgs on both sides fund their campaigns from these companies they trash on camera.

Despite my feeble attempts to curb it, our industry made the mistake of embracing climate change as a benefit of energy efficiency. That may be your reason, but that took us from farmer-level endearment closer to illegal-immigrant-level endearment.

You have to understand; I bet most people reading this think climate change is a real threat, somewhat influenced by political bias, and personal interest. The right views it as a power grab to seize control of the economy.

Therefore, with few exceptions, efficiency has lasting support only in blue or mostly-blue states. It is weak in any state that is or may come under full Republican rule – because, by god, they will defeat the environmental whackos.

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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