The Confused Libertarian (CCAs Part Deux)

Fred Mangels is smart, intellectually curious, a voracious news reader and commenter.  He is an independent thinker.  He is also confused about CCA’s – so much that we may agree on something even though we shouldn’t.

To Fred’s credit, he has been ahead of the curve on CCA’s linking and commenting on Sonoma County’s CCA Sonoma Clean Power.  But on yesterday’s post commenting on the same Letter To the Editor to which I linked yesterday he misses the gal’s entire point.

Fred says this …

“Whether the proposed CCA…”

Wrong Answer

That was her point Fred, the Doug Bosco’s California Clean Power is not a CCA.  Here is what she wrote…

This proven-successful model (edit – a CCA) is not what is being currently proposed. Instead, a private for-profit company is offering a “turnkey” operation by which they would pay upfront costs and guarantee minor savings to ratepayers and a more substantial payment to county government in exchange for future profits, none of which will necessarily be devoted to accumulating reserves, developing local renewable power sources, or financing energy efficiency.

If those type-words were not enough, the title of the article might have given you a clue

Community Choice Aggregation? Not so fast

Here are Fred’s telling conclusions…

Since she represents the Sierra Club, I’m assuming she knows at least a little more about this than I do. At the same time I’d assume she has a green agenda behind her reasoning.

I’m not sure we really want green power when we realize its expense. I do know most of us want the least expensive power available. Whether the current proposal, or hers, would give us that, who knows, but I’m skeptical of each.

This is a great example of how important political tribes and credibility are to how we think about unfamiliar or new topics.  Fred is playing into the us vs. them mentality even though he will type-word all day long that our politics is not, well, bipolar.

This is an example of Fred fitting thoughts into this politically bipolar thinking.  This gal is coming from a green energy perspective and thus this proposal is skeptical.

Truth is, he is right to be skeptical, energy will be more expensive.  But if he really was true to his libertarian, free market roots, he’d expect it and want it to be.   We are not currently paying the true costs of our energy expenses.  From the incalculable environmental change and damage of climate change to the tragically accountable price tag of our military spending the costs of energy are not currently reflected in our PG&E bills nor the gas pump.

That’s the side of the corrupt not-free market Fred will never see.  It’s not just government rigging the system as he sees it, it’s the private sector as well.

There is so much opportunity for change in energy.  With current technology, if interested we could be using the batteries in our cars as storage for the photovoltaic energy for our homes as one small example.   There are major challenges in managing the grid and there will be necessary behavioral changes, but these do not represent a necessary decrease in the standard of living.

It’s complicated, and the complicated subject requires that we first at least share common language.  It turns out that Fred and I may be both opposed to the current faux-CCA currently before the board.  What I hope Fred will soon understand is why.

Here is why Fred.  Sonoma’s CCA is not-for-profit.  From its site …

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is the default electricity provider in Sonoma County. We provide you with the option of using cleaner power at a competitive price from sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. SCP is a not-for-profit agency, independently run by Sonoma County and the participating cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, unincorporated Sonoma County and the Town of Windsor.

From Doug Bosco’s California Clean Power site:

We have launched QuickStart, the state’s first full-service community choice program that is offered at no upfront costs to cities. With our expertise and an experienced team, we can implement the service in your community within approximately 6 to 8 months.

Not-for-profit vs for profit.  Big difference.  It would be analogous to Eel River Disposal vs the now defunct (thanks to our conservative governance) Arcata Community Recycling Center.

Yes, Fred, you might see $5 to $10 higher bills with a not-for-profit.  Just a total random guess.  But that extra investment – if that would occur – would be paying for a energy system with less myopic goals.

These are the types of goals that might one day begin to merge what are both liberal and conservative concerns such as our dependence on foreign oil.  Imagine the potential savings if we could begin to think wholistically about energy rather than simply thinking about a monthly bill.

It’s complicated, it doesn’t make for easy reading or advertising or campaign promises.  The solutions may be 20 or 50 years away instead of 1 to 5.

But there are solutions and to get them right we at least have to agree on the meaning of words.

CCA is an acronym for Community Choice Aggregate, which you get.  California Clean Power is not a CCA.  It is a private firm that would act as a turnkey doing the job that cities and counties should be doing while keeping revenues as profits.

What this is Fred is a continued battle of increased private sector roles vs increased public sector roles.  We seem to be agreeing that neither of us want the Supervisors to green light California Clean Power, but from that one sentence, it doesn’t appear you are totally getting why.


Speaking of (to?) libertarians, here is Kevin Drum on the subject of why most libertarians are men.

Hardcore libertarianism is a fantasy. It’s a fantasy where the strongest and most self-reliant folks end up at the top of the heap, and a fair number of men share the fantasy that they are these folks. They believe they’ve been held back by rules and regulations designed to help the weak, and in a libertarian culture their talents would be obvious and they’d naturally rise to positions of power and influence.

Most of them are wrong, of course. In a truly libertarian culture, nearly all of them would be squashed like ants—mostly by the same people who are squashing them now. But the fantasy lives on regardless.

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