Every reader of this blog, or listener to The Pursuit of Happiness Radio Show, knows one undeniable truth—The Government Sucks At Doing Stuff.
There are stories in the news every day of waste at the federal level—the $10,000 toilet at the Pentagon. Stories of corruption at the state level—Andrew Gillum, former Florida gubernatorial candidate taking money from lobbyists—pro-tip, that’s really bad. And gazillions of electrons report on the issues at the local level—where did all that Harvey money go, Mayor Turner?
We are used to the fact that most people in government cannot be trusted with other peoples’ money.
However, sometimes a story comes along that is so breathtaking in its karma that it just needs to be shared, and the entity mocked.
Georgetown, TX. A gorgeous town north of Austin in Williamson County. Home to Southwestern University—a small, prestigious liberal arts school that used to have a pretty decent baseball team. Home to the Best Town Square in Texas. Home to a Del Webb retirement community where PaPaw and MaMaw can drive their golf carts around all the time. It’s a great place! Except now, the cost of living is going to go way up, because the city government of Georgetown decided to virtue signal.
In 2012, the city of Georgetown decided that it would commit to moving its energy grid to 100% renewable sources (wind and solar). So, the city government decided to buy a bunch of energy futures to cover peak summer usage plus a little extra for future population growth. It locked in 2012 prices by committing to long term contracts of up to 25 years. The city wouldn’t need all that power, so it would make money by selling the extra that it had to the rest of the power grid in Texas. Because, you know, the dinosaurs who liked fossil fuels would be paying through the nose to use other dead dinosaurs.
This move was so cool that even Al Gore highlighted Georgetown in his sequel to An Inconvenient Truth (no, I don’t remember the name of the sequel).
But something has happened in the intervening seven years. Can anyone guess? Could it be….fracking?
While the rest of the state (and nation and world, because we are now a net exporter of gas), started to enjoy lower gas prices, the good people of Georgetown were locked in on those 25 year contracts. Ouch.
It gets even worse, with everyone else paying less, the city couldn’t sell its excess power. Double ouch.
Now the town is stuck paying for all that excess to the tune of several million dollars.
This month, Georgetown residents learned they’ll be paying higher electricity bills this year thanks to this dynamic and, understandably, some of them are not happy about it.
“This was sold as an economic advantage because it was going to lock prices in for years to come,” Randy Barnaby, a Georgetown property owner, said.
But Barnaby and Georgetown resident Jonathan Dade are upset that’s not what’s happening, since the city just announced that customers will see an increase in their power cost adjustment.
According to city officials, it will be about $13 each month for the average customer.
“Every single dollar added to a bill on top of the rising property tax bill is eating into what we have to live off of,” Barnaby said.
“I’m going to see a couple hundred dollars out of my pocket every year now because of this,” Dade said.
“It was a mistake. It was a rash decision. It wasn’t thought through,” Barnaby said.
Of course the city government denies that this hike is because of the cost of wind and solar. Nope the city manager says the price hike would be the same even if they had contracts on gas or coal. The problem is, the temperatures didn’t do with the climate scientists forecast—they didn’t rise enough to put a big enough strain on the Texas grid—so, energy prices fell.
Yep. The city didn’t forecast the possibility that prices could fall. That’s what happens when you buy into hysteria—you get locked into a dystopian world that can’t account for creative problem solving. Rule #1 gets proven again--the government sucks at doing stuff.
And so, the residents will start paying the price on February 1 st .