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Author Topic: Your Power Company
Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 01-17-2001 05:25 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What a pain in the ass.

Traditionally power outages happen in the summer or during electrical storms. This winter PG&E in California is having an electrical generating shortage. Apparently when power was deregulated, PG&E sold off all its generating plants to private companies. Now these private companies are shutting down plants for maintenance and to boost profits by restricting the quantity of electricity available. PG&E has to shell out money it doesn’t have to out of state providers to cover the shortfall. PG&E is trying to get a rate hike that will cost as much as 40% more next year.

Today we are having “rolling blackouts”. They turn off the power to certain areas for 90 minutes at a time. I heard that the 16-plex in the next town was shut down today. We haven’t been turned off yet, but I waiting. I have my canceled show passes ready.

If someone in your state is contemplating deregulation of the power company and is telling you that this will cause price cuts, don’t believe them. Since deregulation we have power shortages and the doubling of electrical rates. In collage economics we were told that there are something’s that work better as natural monopolies like the phone companies and the power company.

Now some schemes work. The next town north of us is Healdsburg. They told PG&E to stuff it 20 years ago and bought there own generating plant. They aren’t having a problem. Sacramento is the state’s capital and they don’t play with PG&E either. They are SMUD. (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) They have the most solar rooftops in the state. They encourage Ground or Earth based heat pumps because they are more efficient for heating and cooling. They aren’t having a problem either.

So if your municipality wants to divorce your state’s Monopoly, this can work.

Grey Davis, the state’s Governor, wants to declare eminent domain and take over all of the power generating plants to solve the problem. Unfortunately this is a rather socialistic action, which will please no one.

As a theatre, what are my options? Can I bill PG&E for lost business? The good news is that I get to blame the next price hike on PG&E; unfortunately, they may get the entire proceeds from the price hike.

I know that solar panels have been coming down in price and that they are 2 times more expensive than generated power. But with the price hikes it may be attractive to cover the theatres roof with solar panels and sell the power back to PG&E, which they must buy under law.

There is a shed out back, which would be a nice place to put the natural gas powered generator for power outages. I wonder how much that would cost?

Well, when you are faced with a 40% increase in your utility bill, you start to wonder. I also start to have anarchist dreams when faced with stuff like this.

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Paul Mayer
Oh get out of it Melvin, before it pulls you under!

Posts: 3835
From: Albuquerque, NM
Registered: Feb 2000

 - posted 01-17-2001 07:10 PM      Profile for Paul Mayer   Author's Homepage   Email Paul Mayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah, Los Angeles went its own way too (MWP Metropolitan Water & Power) as opposed to dealing with SCE (So Cal Edison). But here in Long Beach we're tied to SCE--no rolling blackouts yet, but they keep announcing Stage 3 alerts, so I suppose it's only a matter of time. What a PITA!

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Russ Kress
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 202
From: Charleston, WV, USA
Registered: May 2000

 - posted 01-17-2001 08:25 PM      Profile for Russ Kress   Author's Homepage   Email Russ Kress   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's ironic that we recently took our Cub Scouts on a tour of the American Electric Power, John Amos power plant outside of Charleston. It is the fifth largest plant in the U.S. and we were told that it has never had to deliver more than two thirds of its total capability of 2900 megawatts at any given moment.

The subject of California came up a lot during the Q&A.

The blame, as told to us, was that the de-regulation caused the accountants to gain a louder voice than the engineers. It's a good idea to cut costs so long as you can depend on your supplier.

You might live next door to a power plant, but it is providing only a fraction of the power you are using. California utilities, like AEP, use the plants to energize a common power grid. This creates a redundancy that allows individual generators to either break, or be taken off line for routine maintenance, without anyone losing service.

The difference here (as explained to us) is that AEP owns their own generating plants and wouldn't have it any other way. The plant director who said this then whispered to the adults "Lord I hope so!"

We were also told that the problem on the West Coast will most likely require government intervention. The economic strains on PG&E are almost un-recoverable.

Solar is a neat idea, but if you owned an area sizeable enough to provide the neccessary arrays to power a multiplex (in California), you wouldn't be relying on the movie business to make your living!

The movie biz is hard enough without having something we have always taken for granted biting us on the ass.

Good luck to everyone over there.


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Aaron Sisemore
Flaming Ribs beat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups any day!

Posts: 3061
From: Rockwall TX USA
Registered: Sep 1999

 - posted 01-17-2001 09:12 PM      Profile for Aaron Sisemore   Email Aaron Sisemore   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
>>They are SMUD. (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) They have the most solar rooftops in the state. They encourage Ground or Earth based heat pumps because they are more efficient for heating and cooling. They aren’t having a problem either.<<

SMUD gouges the hell out of its customers My guess is its revenge for being forced to shut down Rancho Seco nuclear plant in 1979. I used to live in Folsom and Elk Grove, and was shocked at how high the electric bills were... Until now, PG&E was a godsend (and I prefer gas heating and cooking anyways)...

Screw SMUD!


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Jesse Skeen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1498
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Aug 2000

 - posted 01-18-2001 07:33 AM      Profile for Jesse Skeen   Email Jesse Skeen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The theater I work at is in Sacramento and the power went out just as the first set of shows was starting this Wednesday. The other buildings around the theater lost their power too. I think that whatever great force out there that decides when the power is going to go out knows when I am working, a few years ago during one of the biggest blackouts in recent history, I was also working at a theater!
The power came back on for the next set of shows, since nothing had been running more than 30 minutes into the show when the power went out I was able to *carefully* pick the take-up film up and put it back into the middle to start again ("Cast Away" was in the middle of the part with Tom Hanks on the plane- I always feel sorry for audiences having movies stop on them like this)- good thing I was there since others thought we'd have to run the rest of the film all the way through before showing it again, even if it meant losing another show to do it!

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