The appropriations portion of the House stimulus bill is not the only legislation with bad ideas.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee has also marked up their portion of the stimulus package.  During the Committee markup, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) inserted a provision that would “decouple” utility rates from the amount of electricity or natural gas that the utilities sell.  According to the “decoupling” provision, states that accept federal energy efficiency grants from the economic stimulus package will have to ensure that utilities recover the revenue lost when consumers use less energy.

In other words, in states that accept the energy efficiency grants, utilities that use the grants to help consumers lower the energy consumption will be able to raise their rates to compensation for the loss in revenue.  Consumers who participate in the programs may see their energy use go down, but may not see any change in the size of their utility bills.  This is the legislative equivalent of a giant wet kiss to utility and environmental lobbyists but a giant kiss off to consumers.

Ohio Dan January 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Pitchforks and torches time edges ever closer….

ELC January 27, 2009 at 12:55 pm

There's a good Democrat, looking out for the little guy.

BS January 27, 2009 at 12:55 pm

would someone have Waxman explain how increasing consumer's expenditures (pay more for less service- which decreases potential purchasing power/ability) contributes to an alleged effective "stimulus" package. Part of the answer i'm sure is that the "decrease spending" (do without things to save money) side of the asset/liabilities ledger, in order to balance a budget, never occurs to a politician like Waxman and his ilk. He hasn't the first clue how the real world (outside the belt way and/or the west side)works, he doesn't have to, we pay his compensation. Sadly, the gov't process (both sides) is now officially a sad joke. The Congress has managed to eradicate any scintilla of respect anyone could, or might have, for "elected" office. Nice work

Alan January 27, 2009 at 1:48 pm

This is an example of a politician who has some market savvy and is looking for ways to increase incentives for energy conservation. When utilities encourage conservation they are shooting themselves in the head because less electricity sold means less revenue, which means less profit. After all, most companies that are selling something don't generally encourage consumers to use the product wisely so as to buy less. This is especially in a regulated sector that does not allow the provider to arbitrarily set rates. So decoupling allows a market force – higher profits – to help encourage the utilities to help encourage the consumer to save.

I thought CEI was all for market incentives and the profit motive! I guess that is only when it ISN'T in the public interest.

Cori January 28, 2009 at 3:31 am

It's funny listening to you guys trying to rationalize everything done by statists.

two January 27, 2009 at 4:18 pm

The beauty of this plan is that eventually the business doesn't have to provide anything but it still is guaranteed a profit. Brilliant…

Lee Smith January 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Ohio Dan, I've had the same thoughts over and over…

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