The WV PSC has something called a Consumer Advocate. This person is supposed to protect our interests “as consumers” against the power companies. Consumers, that’s all we are to the WV PSC.
They are wrong. All of us are potential producers of electricity. Technological change in photovoltaic cells and small scale wind turbines has put production of our own power within our reach. In some states, with forward looking policies, power production is happening right now for individual homeowners and business people.
So now, every rate increase as a result of stupid investment decisions by power companies hurts every one of us as potential energy producers. If we are to become producers, we have to invest in our own equipment, our own capital, to produce energy. Every dollar the power companies take out of our pockets for their own bad investments is a dollar that we cannot spend on our own smart power producing investments.
We are also producers in another sense. Every kilowatt of electricity we avoid using is the equivalent of power that we have produced. In fact, Vermont has set up a utility company that does nothing but reduce electricity use by factories and homes. The Vermont company is paid for each kilowatt hour it saves just as if it were producing that electricity.
The WV PSC and the WV government have made little or no effort to seriously improve the efficiency of the electrical system in WV. We producers are having to do the job all on our own. It might startle you to learn that people in California still use the same amount of electricity, per capita, that they used in the late 1970s. They didn’t use magic, they just got serious about conservation and efficiency.
We are not consumers. We are not hogs at the trough waiting for the next bucket of corn. We are citizens and we are becoming competitors of the power companies in the power production business. That’s why they are so afraid of us.