Once upon a time, there was a village by the sea blessed with sunshine and gentle breezes. In a house overlooking the water lived Samantha and Diego and their children.
Every morning all of them woke up early and bustled downstairs for breakfast. Sam (as her friends called her) turned on the lights, opened the refrigerator and started setting out juice, eggs, cheese, bread, frozen waffles, bacon, cereal, sausages, poptarts, fruit and donuts, while Diego started the coffee and got out pots and pans. They loved making breakfast.
Everything was perfect, except that every now and then Diego complained that he liked his sausages grilled (with the little black lines). Sam took this to heart and that spring on his birthday bought Diego a George Forman Grill! Then everything was perfect.
Well, almost perfect. One day in early summer a terrible thing happened. They began breakfast as usual, but as it was a hot day they turned on their air conditioner first thing and then set about breakfast. Everything was fine until Diego plugged in his grill and the circuit breaker blew! Too many things on one circuit: the refrigerator, a toaster, a microwave, the grill and the air conditioner. They needed more power!
So, they called Joe Power, the village fella who helped their neighborhood with electrical things. Joe came over right away. When they told him what happened Joe got a serious look in his eye and said, “Well, folks, it looks like you need another generator in your backyard.”
Diego and Sam cried, “Do we really? We already have two and they’re kind of noisy and stinky and expensive.”
Joe, understanding their concerns replied, “Well, let me think on it, and I’ll get back to you.”
Over the next few days Diego wasn’t able to grill his sausages and he and Sam were very sad. But, sure enough, the next week Joe stopped by and said he had a solution. First, he said, they needed to install a new circuit in their kitchen to handle more power, and second, he had figured out a way to get them more power without having to put a generator in their backyard, and maybe even getting rid of one of the generators they already had.
Sam and Diego like the sound of that, but then they asked, “How much work will it take to run a new circuit into the kitchen – we’re worried about getting drywall dust in our scrambled eggs.”
Joe said, “I wouldn’t worry about that because the fact is that you need more power and so you’ve got to put in a new circuit. We can figure out later where the wires and outlets will go and how much construction it will take.”
Then Sam and Diego asked, “But, how much will it cost – this plan to bring us power from somewhere else?”
Joe replied, “About a billion dollars (“gasp!”) plus the cost of the generator and electricity, but don’t worry because I’ve figured out a way to spread the cost among you and your neighbors, because you see, they are all having the same sorts of problems. Then Joe explained his plan, thusly.
“First,” he said, “I talked to your backyard neighbors to the south, Juana and Baja, and since they’re kinda poor, they don’t mind if I put the generator in their yard. Also, we’re going to put in a generator that runs off propane, because its cleaner so you won’t smell it so much. You’ll hardly smell it at all. Next, I’ll run a wire from their yard to your house, and from your house to Les and Angelina’s house next door, and from them to Sam and Barbara’s house and also to Bernard and Hesperia’s house across the street. That way it will only cost you around $100 million, I think.”
Sam and Diego thought that sounded better, but $100 million was still a lot of money. Besides, they already had a wire coming from their neighbors to the east, Ari and Zona, and other wires coming from their own generators to the house, so they didn’t much like the idea of another wire cutting across their backyard.
That night as they were lying in bed Sam and Diego tossed and turned worrying about their problem, because it was a lot of money and they didn’t like the idea of having more wires across their backyard.
Sam got to thinking, “We only blow the circuit breaker when it’s hot so couldn’t we put in more insulation or replace our air conditioner and refrigerator with ones that use less power? After all, we got them just after we were married and they’re kind of noisy and old. Or maybe we could put a solar panel on the roof – other people have done that.”
Diego thought about the wall behind the counter where they kept all their appliances that divided the kitchen from the living room and came up with a different solution. “Couldn’t we just run a wire from the living room circuit up through the wall and put a new outlet in the kitchen? That would have to be a lot cheaper and it might be good enough.”
The next day Sam & Diego talked to Joe about their ideas. Joe listened again, but said in an annoyed kind of way, “I’m not sure that’s going to work because you’re family is growing and you simply need more power, but I’ll look into whether I could put up a solar panel or two or perhaps a wind generator in the backyard, perhaps in the kid’s sand box next to the old swimming pool (that was so green that nobody swam in it anymore).” Then Joe, in an urgent voice added, “Listen, you can’t waste time! You should just sign a contract with me now and I’ll get to work right away. Trust me!” But Sam and Diego said they would need to think about it some more.
The next day as Sam was gardening between her house and Les and Angelina’s, she found a strange thing. A wire came out of their house from the kitchen, ran along their privacy fence and passed into Les and Angelina’s yard. Now, Sam and Diego didn’t talk much with Les and Angelina (they felt that they had loose morals; after all, didn’t they have 9.5 million children, whereas Sam and Diego had a more respectable 2.8 million children?), so she marched over and knocked on their door.
“What’s the meaning of that wire?” she demanded of Angelina. Angelina said, “Oh, we thought Joe told you. A couple of years ago he ran a wire from your house to ours because my hair drier kept blowing our fuses.”
At work that day, Diego was talking about the problem with some friends around the water cooler, and one of them said, “Did you hear about Joe’s dad (and boss), Hoss Powers? He just added propane selling to his business. He plans to bring it in by boat from across the ocean.” Now, nobody much cared for Hoss Powers because a lot of people believed that in the past he had manipulated them into thinking that they had a power crisis and overcharged them for electricity.
That night, Sam showed Diego the wire and he told her about Hoss’s propane business. They thought something was fishy, so they walked to their back fence and said hello to Juana and Baja, who were just about to grill some steaks on their new propane grill and invited them over. It turns out that Hoss Powers was paying Juana and Baja to rent space to put a big propane tank and generator in their backyard. No, they wouldn’t own the wire or the generator – Hoss would own them.
Now it all made sense! Hoss Powers wanted to sell more propane and wanted everybody to use as much power as possible so that he would make as much money as possible, so he figured out a way to make the whole neighborhood buy electricity generated by burning propane and got Joe to sell it to them. Also, after all was said and done, Sam, Diego and their neighbors would pay for the new generator and the wires, but Hoss would own them, which means that when he retired he could sell them to somebody else, make a lot of money and move to the Cayman Islands.
Now, what should Sam and Diego do?
They believe Joe that his plan will bring more power, but does it make sense for Sam and Diego to sign an expensive contract to install new wiring without knowing exactly how much money the new wires will cost and what damage the new wiring will do to their house and where the wire will run across their backyard?
Shouldn’t they also look at buying appliances that use less power, turning up their AC thermostat and/or running a new wire just a few feet in the wall between the kitchen and living room?
Does it make sense to make Sam and Diego’s dependent on oversees propane supplies?
If they are going to use solar power, doesn’t it make more sense to put the panel on their roof rather than way out in the backyard over the sand box that the kids play in?
And finally, should Sam and Diego trust Hoss and Joe’s opinion about anything that will make Hoss less money?
The answer is up to you.
The Actors The Cast
Sam & Diego The Citizens of San Diego!
Les & Angelina The Citizens of Los Angeles!
Juana & Baja The Citizens of Baja Norte, Mexico!
The Kids in the San Box Everybody Who Lives in and Enjoys Imperial County, the desert areas of San Diego County and Anza Borrego State Park (including the Citizens of Imperial County and the ORVers, hikers, bird watchers and others from all over who recreate in our deserts)
Joe Powers San Diego Gas & Electric Company
Hoss Powers Sempra Energy Inc., the owner of SDG&E and one of the alleged ringleaders in the “California Energy Crisis”
The New Wiring The Sunrise Power Link, a new high voltage transmission line that Sempra/SDG&E wants to build to move power from its plants in Mexico, most of which will be sold to Los Angeles
The Wire to Les and Angelina’s House A Sempra Contract that permits it to sell expensive electricity from Mexico to Los Angeles via San Diego, thereby clogging up SDG&E’s powerlines
The Generator in Juana and Baja’s Backyard Existing and new power plants that Sempra plans to build in Baja, Mexico
Propane Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) that Sempra plans to import from the Pacific to fuel its power plants in Mexico
The Propane Tank A huge LNG port planned for the coast of Mexico