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TOPIC: Your Power Company

Your Power Company 17 Jan 2001 19:28 #1153

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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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Re: Your Power Company 17 Jan 2001 22:08 #1154

Your gas powered generator would cost more than your electricity right now. You are having rolling black outs we are dealing with the cost of gas going out of sight. There is an Alleged "shortage" of natural gas. The Hetaing bill at the house jumped from $26 to $212!!! in just two billing cycles.I hate to see the theatres Unfoutunately we can't " generate" gas...well hmmmmm there is a thought ..... serve beans instead of popcorn.:P
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Re: Your Power Company 17 Jan 2001 22:19 #1155

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Large:

There is no escape. It seems that we are all getting screwed by utilities this year. Here in Pennsylvania our electric rates and availablity are fine so far, BUT...our natural gas has doubled, and is expected to go higher. This means a ten to twenty thousand dollar increase in my heating bill for the season. That will put my theatre way in the red for the year. Who do we hold accountable for this, or in other words ...who do we string up?

I blame the current administration in Washington for this. Clinton had NO energy policy for the past eight years, except to make it more difficult to drill for oil or natural gas here in the US. We are now more dependent on foreign energy then ever.

And as to deregulation.... in the thirty five years that I have been in business any time something has been deregulated with the promise that it would save us money... that has NEVER happened. Service ALWAYS gets worse and the cost goes UP!

When will they, and us, learn!

I"M MAD AS HELL, AND WON'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE.
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Re: Your Power Company 18 Jan 2001 06:40 #1156

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Ian,
What is the average cost per KW in CA. Here in upstate NY we have one of the lowest costs in several counties. As for natural Gas, Our utility company has so much that I seem to remember a price freeze for two years. Here cooling in the summer is so much cheaper than heating in the winter. We unfortunatly can't use ground source heat pumps to generate economical heat in the winter, it gets too dam cold!!!'
lance
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Re: Your Power Company 18 Jan 2001 19:10 #1157

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For the month of December we paid a little over $2,000.00 which isn't all that bad.

Electricity is being billed at $0.34426/Kwh but we seem to be getting a discount.

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Re: Your Power Company 19 Jan 2001 12:23 #1158

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Our monthly elec is 300.00. Our oil we bought at a contract price for the year back in June so we're doing well on heat. Clearly de-reg is a big problem. Maine did it last eyar and now I am shaking.

It's funny: last night I sat and looked at CNN and "Rolling Blakouts!" didn't seem like such a big deal since I'm 3300 miles away! It's very different when you have to hand out refund/passes as people leave ticked off! The govs solution might be radical but so is shutting off power to millions! I say "Take 'em!"

Mike Hurley
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Re: Your Power Company 19 Jan 2001 18:18 #1159

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Large, as i recall, you're a five-plex. To run five lamps on a generator is going to require one helluva investment -- be it natural gas, diesel, or squirls in cages. But, it might be a choice between that and going out of business. It might due to put your ear to the tracks and see if this "rolling blackouts" BS is a long-term problem. Then you get to do the math and see if it will be worth investing (a thought: lower wattage lamps or bulbs for when you have to go on generator). As a single screen, I would look into a gas generator and get a battery BU for my low-voltage aisle lights (or open a health club upstairs and run belts from all the exorcise bicycles . . . .). Also, there are going to be a load of regs governing any generating equipment you install -- so factor that into the price. A cheaper way to go might be: Check into the local rental yard and see what they get for those construction sight generators -- and if they schedule the black outs, you can have it ready to go. You'll need an electriction to come up with the inerface with your electrical system. That way you're not dealing with teh hell of a permanent installation. Might pay to take a field trip to the local hospital and see how they're dealing with it. So far in OR, we've been doing ok. i get about one or two blackouts a year -- must say it does wonders for the snack bar gross . . . . Good luck!
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: Your Power Company 22 Jan 2001 09:52 #1160

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Avalon, you are on the right track. Large, if you are looking at an uninterrupted power source for blackouts or power outages you are going to find it is very expensive, especially since there is market demand in your part of the world. It will require a transfer switch (automatic) to be installed, you will then need a UPS (very large or multiple, depending on your requirements)to come on immediately, this will handle the short term and transition to your generator. The back-up system will require maintenance, fuel, etc. Hospitals all have these systems, but will not be a good benchmark since hospitals have very stringent electrical codes they must adhere to, making these systems overkill for your application. Your starting point should be to calculate your power requirements, then contact a contractor that is experienced. One company I'm familiar with is Generac. www.generac.com they are a power systems manufacturer that offer a solid product at a reasonable price. Good Luck!
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Re: Your Power Company 24 Jan 2001 19:49 #1161

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I was being facetious when I was asking for a generator and a solar rooftop. A power outage isn't the end of the world for a movie theatre. We are outage block 14. They usually only do two blocks per day and they haven't gotten past #8 yet. The outages only last for 90 minutes.

My biggest complaint is that I feel like I am getting taken financially by somebody's political maneuverings. It's the helpless feeling of being slowly screwed without consent that bugs me. Here it is the 21st century and we still haven't figured out distribution of electricity? Unbelievable! What's next? Are we going to revisit the gas lines of 1974? Will businesses go out of business because the government deregulated the power company? The next thing I know there will be a shortage of raw corn and sugar.

I have a fragile sense of well-being and I don't like it when it gets threatened. But I would love to build a theatre with a solar rooftop.

P.S. I just got a call from a concerned woman who asked if we were going to be open tomorrow with all these blackouts? (There have been no blackouts in California in the past five days.) I told her that we couldn't plan for these things but we certainly would be open tomorrow. See, it is infecting the confidence of society. I don't mind an occasional blackout but now they are scaring my customers. That I can't stand!
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Re: Your Power Company 25 Jan 2001 10:28 #1162

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What about installing exerbike's that were hooked into generators and the audience could peddle and power the film at the same time!

Maine dereged a few years ago. Nothing like Calif yet. YET! I'm with Ian.... the sense that you're told this is to make things better and cheaper while the result is to screw you blue, make you pay more, and lose power too! Yikes!

Mike Hurley
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