The insanity of certain government mandated energy-saving programs is on full display here in Ohio with the recent issue of the 'gift' of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to homeowners in the state.
The Bullet Points:
* Ohio politicians pass 'bold, new' energy law (aren't they great???)
* Law puts mandate on energy producers to get their customers to reduce consumption (yes, that's what the law does...)
* Electric company develops program to 'give' us all CFL light bulbs - at a cost 67% more than we'd pay for the bulbs in the store
* Government agency 'allows' company to recoup costs of program - including the cost of energy NOT used because of the energy-reducing product
* Public expresses outrage
* Ohio politicians begin backtracking
As one of the comments, said, "If I hadn't seen it...or hadn't heard it...I wouldn't believe the stupidity of all envolved (stet) ...."
But that's not all. Shortly after this original post, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) granted FirstEnergy an extension because of all the hullabaloo over the issue. Now we find that they've finally approved the plan - with modifications.
So now we have a 'free' (though we're paying for it) light bulb program that FirstEnergy is going to run. We're going to pay for the light bulbs whether we take them or not, and, when we end up using less electricity, FirstEnergy is going to be able to recoup the money we won't be paying as a result.
And just to highlight the ridiculousness of it all, this is a plan that is supposed to cover 2010-2012. How nice that it's finally gotten approval halfway through the term!
Let's take a look at how much this is 'really' going to save us. The company was originally going to give everyone two light bulbs and charge $.60 per month over three years for a total of about $21.60. In 2009, a four-pack of the same bulbs was only $8.
Under the plan just approved, we're going to get six bulbs and be charged $.30 per month over three years for a total of about $10.80 - half what was originally proposed.
However - and this is a BIG however - FirstEnergy isn't going to charge us just the $.30. They've received permission to charge customers $1.50 per month for three years to fund the program (the $.30 per month for the bulbs) and to cover "lost distribution revenue." That's the amount of money we won't be paying FirstEnergy because we've reduced our energy consumption.
So, I'm going to pay $54 for the 'privilege' of using six "free" CLF light bulbs when I could go to Walmart and purchase the same thing for $2.53 each - a total of $15.16 plus sales tax.
My phrase, 'stuck on stupid,' just doesn't seem to cover the insanity of this.
Now, FirstEnergy is stating that I can save money by using these bulbs - $49.25 annually or $147.75 over the three year period. And that, they justify, is actually a savings for us ($147.75 energy savings minus the $54 cost) of $93.75. Woo Hoo!
But think about it - without the program mandated by our elected officials in Columbus, I could purchase six bulbs for $15.16, install them and save $147.75 over three years, for a net savings of $132.59. That's 41% more than I'd save using the government-mandated, PUCO-approved, 'free' giveaway.
But we're supposed to be happy and 'feel good' about our elected officials who've come up with this idiocy.
As I wrote two years ago, and I still believe:
Don't blame FirstEnergy for doing what the law requires. Blame the politicians and Governor who passed the law in the first place.
These elitist statists are trying to force us to conform to their opinion of how to save energy - but they're not telling us directly, because we'd revolt if they mandated what kind of light bulb we had to buy.
Instead, they've created a mandate on a supplier of a product, forcing the supplier to try and find a way to get their customers to use less of their product.
This is more than 'stuck on stupid.' It's insane!
I'll repeat: That's like telling Starbucks that people drink too much coffee and they need to get their customers to drink less. Is this not unrealistic and bordering upon 'insanity'?
And, now that we've seen what the program will actually look like, we know that government isn't really helping us at all. They are costing us money - while telling us they're giving us something for free - and claiming to help the environment at the same time that they're dictating our consumer choices.
As it stands today, I'm going to end up paying for a product I do not want and, if I return the product to the supplier, I'm going to be charged. In any other situation, I'd have legal recourse in the courts. Ohio has specific laws to prevent me from being billed for items I did not order and do not want. Apparently, though, when lawmakers crafted this law, they missed the irony of the contradiction.
Maybe I will pursue a lawsuit over the matter - wonder what my chances are of winning?
"[I]f the public are bound to yield obedience to laws to which they cannot give their approbation, they are slaves to those who make such laws and enforce them." ~ Candidus in the Boston Gazette, 1772