House Bill 6 in Ohio is a Good Thing–if you want free markets, then provide them

There has been a lot of criticism about the passage of House Bill 6 which is the “Ohio Clean Air Program” because both sides of the political spectrum are missing the point. The bill essentially is a government bail out of the Akron-based First Energy Solutions nuclear power plants. The hippie liberal communist environmentalists don’t like that the bill strips away cash credits for “renewable energy,” such as wind power and solar while raising $200 million per year to cover the costs of the plants as a government heavy highly regulated industry that continues to lose money to the point where they won’t survive past the year 2021.

On the other hand there are the free market capitalists who don’t like that the utility company has donated over $1 million to Republicans to keep fossil fuel energy production alive, where the Obama era administrators sought to kill the industry in 2008 with more government mandates. Given the climate of government intrusion to begin with, and the need for good, reliable energy in Ohio, H.B, 6 further allows for local townships to vote by referendum any wind or solar powered take over of land and other assets to launch their “renewable energy” proposals, meaning the government can’t just decide to put up wind power plants by force. People in local areas would have the right to vote on them, which has the radicals infuriated. But equally infuriated are the capitalist who think that the whole deal is just another example of crony politics, where politicians will do anything for the donor base.

Here’s the deal, and I have been talking about this for a very long time, our utilities companies are monopolies that are directly attached to government management. And they shouldn’t be. If they weren’t “public” utilities then the management burden wouldn’t fall on government to have to solve, and Republicans in Columbus wouldn’t be tasks to bail them out or otherwise watch them fail down the tubes. And if the companies fail, what’s that do to our ability to produce nuclear power? Letting them fail at this point simply isn’t an option. And putting regulatory barriers on that industry just to facilitate hippie energy isn’t going to solve the problem either. What is truly needed in the long term are true free market solutions, which I suggested in Thorium, where every single home could generate their own power off a government regulated grid, kind of like how each home has their own air conditioning units. The technology is there, but government needs to get out of standing in the way of it, and when it does problems like what First Energy Solutions is going through would then become a private problem instead of a government problem. That is where the real issues reside.

The current state reality of energy creation is that it isn’t privatized, which by no coincidence is precisely why the health care industry is going through the same problem. If health care were privatized competition would bring down the expensive medications that are on the market. Government intrusion raises those cost and puts all the power in lobbyists. Until health care is privatized, costs will continue to be high and no easy solution for providing health care to people will be conducive to reality. Energy is hampered by the same restrictions. Power companies are government mandated monopolies, made that way through the incredibly high barriers of entry into the market. Regulator considerations destroy anything but the deepest pocket investors who then look to government to protect their investment. It’s much like the railroad situation at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Someone had to build all those railroads, then someone had to manage the trains themselves and the people getting on them. Public utilities do great work, but they are expensive, and they are vulnerable to mass outages which hampers so many people because they must maintain and old grid of power supply that is in this present time old and obsolete.

But until we invent a better means of power generation, such as personal Thorium power plants the size of an air conditioning unit on a home for every home in the nation, government is stuck keeping the old dinosaur alive, which is what H.B. 6 in Ohio essentially is. The future of power generation isn’t the government mandates for solar and wind power plants passed down from the communist oriented Obama administration, its in private investment and personal maintenance, such as moving public transportation from the train to a car.

I love camping and always enjoy the sites of an RV park. Sure, while they are stationed in these weekend warrior hideaways, they are plugged in usually into the campground system of power and water maintenance. But in looking at all those great RVs within most of them are generators and tanks that allow them to function independently while traveling along the vast highways of our nation. It is from them that we should be learning how to push technology into each of our homes and businesses with more independent power generation and to get there we need to allow competition into the public utilities, which of course they don’t want, but that is the ultimate solution. We have allowed government to stand in the way of that energy independence so we really shouldn’t complain when they are called on to manage the trouble.

In that regard I completely support the Republican position on H.B. 6 and the Governor DeWine’s reasoning on the matter. They are dealing with dinosaur technology to supply the energy needs for a sustainable Ohio. The goal thankfully isn’t to pander to the flimsy hopes of the environmental terrorists, or the communist desires to destroy capitalism in the United States through heavy regulations tied to the backs of “Green Energy” but to deal with the two nuclear power plants that we do have, which have already cost a lot of money and do employ a lot of people. We need to use the energy we do have to bridge us into a 21st century solution. Likely the utility companies won’t like that solution but that is a bridge to cross when we get there. But we do need to get there.

Independent energy has to be the answer for the future, and free market competition to bring down the costs. Government needs to be out of all these economic transactions so that real free market solutions can come about, just like it did when the telephone utilities were deregulated. That is how the cell phone came about. Imagine what would happen if utilities were deregulated to allow for new methods of power generation to emerge. It amazes me how good some of the RV power generation innovations are these days. Imagine what it would look like if every home in the nation had their own source of power. Think of the lack of destructive impact to any economy that happens during every major storm where power grids get knocked out and hundreds of thousands of people are out of power for days, putting many people at risk. The option could be that every home treated their power supply like they do their air conditioners or heating services. A few downed trees wouldn’t kill the power for several neighborhoods. Instead one or two homes might be affected who could solve their problem with a simple service call from a competitive repair person. If we really want free market conditions, then let’s get government out of the utilities market and put them in the hands of the private sector.

Rich Hoffman

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