Interesting News from Elsewhere

I hope you all finish your finals without mental breakdowns and have a wonderful holiday break! We’ll still be posting over break so check back. If you’re interested in writing something during your new found free time, email me at sjfredericks at wisc dot edu

  • NPR did a really interesting piece Monday morning about a medicine that can stop a stroke if taken within a certain time frame. The medicine isn’t perfect, but the story itself is incredibly interesting. It always amazes me what science can do. I recommend listening to the audio version. They did some really good editing on the story.
  • Google is doing  some serious self-promotion with this piece, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re right. Real time updates on energy usage would be an excellent way to curb energy use. I once heard the issue framed this way: You don’t go to the grocery store, buy the food you need each time and then at the end of the month, get a bill for what you consumed. Energy is one of the only things that you have to pay for, without knowing exactly how much it will cost, beforehand.
  • Paul Krugman analyzes why we shouldn’t reduce minimum wage to create jobs. My first thought upon reading that was: Is the problem right now really that there aren’t enough really low paying jobs? But Krugman actually explains (using economics) why it isn’t a good idea.
  • Volokh Conspiracy has another awesome guest blogger. Harvey Silverglate is blogging about the findings in his new book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. The first installment gives a bit of overview, focusing on financial fraud, wherein Silverglate discusses the unjust nature of unclear or inaccessible laws.
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About Sylvia Fredericks

Second-Year MPA student at the La Follette School for Public Affairs (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
This entry was posted in Blogging, Health, National, News, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Interesting News from Elsewhere

  1. Don Hynek says:

    Actually, there’s no good evidence that time-of-use electric meters save energy; the only study I have seen is very mixed in its findings. The reason is that, as far as electric use is concerned, very little is keyed to specific actions; most electric use is the refrigerator, the furnace (in cold climates like ours) and other devices that are very inconvenient to turn on & off.

    It may be that time-of-use meters would reduce waste in wasteful households — I do inspections regularly in homes where two TVs are on, with no one watching, etc., etc. But I don’t know that those households will change behavior that much when a cost of 5 cent per hour is applied and visible because of those two TVs. I suspect that’s too low a cost to change behavior.

    Then there’s the utility issue; I am perfectly happy to assess/price my food buying a few times a month. But, do I REALLY want to have to be thinking every minute that I’m at home the (minimal) impact of that minute’s decisions on my electric bill? Where’s the utility in that? Especially if all that decision-making has minimal actual impact?

    Time-of-use is the holy grail of utility execs because it cuts costs and increases profit. Load-leveling increases capacity factors and reduces marginal capital costs. I have yet to see any evidence that utilities are actually willing to pass the savings back to customers. Right now, overall electric load is down about 7% due to industrial load destruction; all the Wisconsin utilities are filing for rate INCREASES to cover the cost of their installed generation bases. Heads I win, Tails you lose…

    • I’m going to have to disagree with you on some of that. First, I don’t think you should be discounting reducing waste in the most wasteful homes. An NPR story from 2007 stated that the change in hourly cost based on use moved a bit more drastically than $.05 for a toaster, never mind 2 televisions. And even appliances you cannot turn off, you can turn up or down. There is no harm in making people more aware of their usage/costs and if that leads to reduction in some then it is a win. Second, utility is obviously derived individually. I absolutely hate not knowing how much money I am spending to operate things in my home. Furthermore, it seems that people who have the monitors installed are happy with them.

      Finally, there is more to reducing energy use than saving money. While it is certainly a perk, the reduction in energy consumption is, first and foremost, an environmental benefit. Utility companies should pass on savings to the consumers, but even if they don’t, the benefits of real-time monitoring is not lost.

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