Peak Energy Demand/Market-based Pricing

California has been going through some rough times the past few days. We've hit a major heat wave that is breaking record highs left and right.

Yesterday, the California Independent System Operators (ISOs) actually called a Stage 2 Power Alert. The power grid delivered more electricity at peak (50,270 megawatts)than had ever happened previously. Apparently the amount of power consumed was forecast to occur in 2011, not 2006! (A Stage 3 Power Alert means that there is more demand than there is power. To keep the system up, the ISOs perform "rolling" blackouts, where different areas have a 100% power loss for a period of time.)

I have a simple solution to this problem. I'm sure I am not the first person to think of this, but then I haven't seen a lot of discussion about it either.

Introduce market-based pricing to energy consumption.

If there is low demand for power, the price of power from the grid should drop. If there is high demand, the price should rise. No more pleas from the Governor of California to reduce power consumption. You can bet that people won't be doing their laundry when the price of running the dryer is double. Businesses will curtail consumption.

A no-brainer if there ever was one.

p.s. Sounds like an opportunity for the right entrepreneur

Aha! I'm not the first person to think about this - good :-)

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Jury Duty: Your Civic Duty

It finally happened. I haven't been called up for Jury Duty since 1999, and they wanted me to come in the week that our deal with MSFT was supposed to close. I wrote back asking for a different week (which the letter from the County clearly stated could only be done once)

A few days later, I received another letter from the county, this time with a different date. Unfortunately, the date was a mere two weeks later. "Um, I know you guys just bought my company, but I have jury duty". That one felt pretty dumb, but what to do? I couldn't ask for a second reprieve.

So on the appointed day last week, I dutifully showed up at the county courthouse and, along with 50 or so others, waited an hour in the Jury Room. We were shown in and were given instructions on how jury selection would occur. The court ... er ... well, I can't remember the guy's title, but a man began to call out folks to be questioned by the judge and the attorneys. I escaped the first round but had to sit and listen to the questions being asked. When the judge asked each potential juror if the four day trial would be a hardship, I heard some of the lamest excuses ever.

Eventually I was called and questioned. For whatever reason, I was not removed by either attorney. The fourteen of us (12 jurors, 2 alternates) were given brief instructions and sent home. Start to finish, the process took more than 7 hours. Walking to my car, I began thinking about the fact I had just been empaneled on my first jury. It sounds cliche, but I really began to feel that not only was it my duty as a citizen to serve on a jury, but that I should take pride in the fact that our democracy, however flawed, has a court system that really subscribes to the notion of "innocent until proven guilty". I realized I was actually perturbed by the others that had so lamely tried to get out of jury duty.

The next day, a few friends found out I was serving on a jury. To a person they said the same thing "gee, couldn't you have gotten off? Just lie a little next time...". Ugh