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Define "cheap" (and define "competition", too)

by Jerome a Paris Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 07:45:02 AM EST

German regulator warns of Europe power shortages

Coal-to-power projects were being cancelled because operators feared tougher emissions rules or because citizens did not want polluting plants in their neighbourhood, while rising prices of materials and labour added to delays, he said.

"The EU needs an overall strategy to deal with blocked decision-making, protests and the CO2 question," he said at a conference during the E-World trade fair.

"The investment jam will be poison for competition...how can we bring prices down if a tightness scenario is developing," he said, alluding to CO2 avoidance costs and high energy prices.

Damn those citizens that selfishly refuse to tolerate pollution and force everybody else to bear the cost of that avoidance in the form of higher energy prices!

And damn these pesky regulations that prevent companies from safely releasing their carbon in the atmosphere and force them to spend inconsiderate sums to capture (and some would say oppress) their gases!

And damn those markets that won't answer to market signals by reducing demand in the face of constrained supply; or rather - damn these idealists that think that prices going up are a market signal instead of a sign of inefficiency that requires intervention!

a "level playing field" would be a basic requirement for competition, no?

Not spewing pollution or carbon dioxide would appear to be a sensible requirement to level the playing field, no?


But I've obviously been mistaken to think that efficient markets provide "true" prices that allow investors and consumers to make the right decisions as to the use or the provision of a good (energy in that case).

Silly me.

The goal is to provide low monetary prices, at the exclusion of everything else.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 07:56:21 AM EST
Ah, but this goes back to that NATO blokey saying that he was on the frontline to preserve "our" way of life, ie western profligate conservatism.

To suggest that we reverse the cultural habits of centuries and constrain our appetites makes you, as far as their viewpoint stretches, a traitor to the western way of life, they think you want us to lose.  Therefore you aree a certificable and, thus, ignorable dirty f...ing hippy. And you probably hate America too.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:17:30 AM EST
Yes, damn them all!!

You missed off damning those who think these companies should be directly paying the social costs too, as well as inhibiting their freedom to make the big bucks with all these regulations and hippy-esque protests.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:30:07 AM EST
We find that Kurth, the German Energy Minister, is actually bitching about the EC effort to separate generation from transmission, as is using this argument to propose a "third way."  This third way involves allowing the continued ownership of both sides of the coin, but uses greater "transparency" to cover for actual regulation.  Silly us to think that E.on or RWE would change their stripes.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 10:12:10 AM EST
on the subject of energy, because it seems to me the terms of debate are not served either by our ruling elite nor, in this case, by absolute subservience to the will of superstitious people who think nuclear power will turn their children chartreuse. I know the will of the people here is turning against dirty and underpriced coal, and that's good, but most of the time it's nukes getting the same treatment, especially in Germany, and so vox populi is not always vox dei...

Just build some more safe, efficient nuclear power plants, adequately price pollution into the use of carbon fuels like coal and petrol to encourage conservation, provide efficient, clear and convenient transportation alternatives to the private automobile, adequately price externalities of private automobile ownership into the cost of owning and operating one and be done with it.

Oh and I want a tax credit for riding my bike to work every day like folks get for driving their car...

Can it be this hard?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:32:51 PM EST
Things are changing, slowly, if even America's largest banks, those bastions of socialism, are betting on pollution charges. My blogpost here:

BofA Joins Wall Street Banks Pricing CO2 - et tu World Bank?

These guys will be financing hundreds of billions of dollars in energy infrastructure in the next decade. They sure had better get the price right.

Also, I'll second that demand for a bike/walk tax credit -- last week I asked HR whether some of my tax-free metro benefit could be transfered to my regular salary so I could buy a decent bike, and the answer was no, seems the bosses get a tax break too for offering the benefit. I've already ruined one pair of shoes walking every day.

by yally04 on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:13:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some workplaces offer 'green' benefits - where I used to work I was able to take up to 1000 pounds tax free to buy a bike with which was then paid back monthly in small intallments from my salary.   It was just a tax free and interest free loan (plus a free extra 200 pounds in vouchers for cycling accessories). All in all, I didn't save loads but it helped a bit.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:35:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A little boost like that would be great!

But the tax agency in the US doesn't allow a deduction for that sort of thing. And it'd be a big administrative hassle to get (taxed) money diverted from the (tax-free) public transit benefit. I'm close enough to work that metro (incl. transfers) is only a few minutes faster than walking, but I get the metro benefit no matter what. It's a waste really since I like walking better and could use some new shoes ...

by yally04 on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:48:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you are in the US, I have a collection of very nice gently raced road bikes at good prices for sale between now and early June!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm in DC, with no access to a car. But I'm interested. Where are you? I'm doing a triathlon in June and am on the market for a decent bike.
by yally04 on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:56:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You do triathlons?

Man, I do have a deal for you. I've two tt bikes, only taking one with me to France (moving in July).

One's an Orbea chrono (road geometry) set-up with Hed integrated bars, easton aero fork, all DA, with a hed real disk and a Spinergy RevX 4-spoke front wheel. I'd sell this for $2,500 (but would probably rather keep, I'm not a tri guy). Center-to-center of 54cm. Euskaltel orange color.

The other is a Cannondale Caad4 (triathlon geometry), Cinelli angel integrated bars, slice aero fork, all DA including the wheelset. I'd sell this for $1,000. This was my old TT bike until two years ago, had maybe 1,500 km race/warm-up miles, wheelset a bit more. I got a 53 minute 40K out of this one, it's a tri bike though so it's more built for a runner in terms of geometry thus the bike above. Center-to-center of 53.5cm. Smoke grey color.

Also have a Cinelli Starlight road frame with all DA except the rims which are Mavic CXP33s. Muscle fork Compact frame, virtual 53cm. White with black. Used as trainer, never raced, lots of constant use. This one $750.

I live in Saint Paul, MN, and am quite used to shipping these things...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 03:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 03:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I had my druthers I'd try one of the latter two, but I need to try out any bike before buying. This will be my first triathlon, and my first non-Craiglist bike, so I want to do it right.

Where will you be living in France? I moved to DC just before Velib hit Paris, and had to content myself with terrorizing tourists with my rollerblades ... Washington streets and sidewalks just aren't up to snuff.

by yally04 on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 04:00:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wife is targeting Strasbourg, so probably there.

I hear you on bikes, though buying off craigslist isn't a bad thing to do. The important thing is to get properly fitted on your bike whichever it is, and a close second of course is the right size bike but this is second after a proper fitting.

Any proper professional bike shop, (I think there's revolution cycles and capitol hill cycles for two in DC) has someone on staff who can do this. But make sure the person doing it knows what they're doing. If they have a USCF coach license or have experience as an elite cyclist/currently licensed cat 1/2, they can do this.

Sorry you had to move to DC...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 04:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the advice, I'll shop around and see what I can find.

By the way, for the record, I like DC! I'd never been before flying in from Paris, and I expected to hate it. Maybe it's just the cool crowd I've fallen in with, my fun neighborhood, or the great organization I work for, but it's really not so bad.

by yally04 on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 10:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very intriguing blogpost, btw...

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:41:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! I'm surprised it didn't get picked up more in the MSM, there's just a blogpost from the WSJ.

Here's the full transcript of the speech I referenced:


It almost makes me optimistic ...

by yally04 on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:55:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or at least, this is the general impression in the US.


In a report compiled in early 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy listed 151 coal-fired power plants in the planning stages and talked about a resurgence in coal-fired electricity. But during 2007, 59 proposed U.S. coal-fired power plants were either refused licenses by state governments or quietly abandoned. In addition to the 59 plants that were dropped, close to 50 more coal plants are being contested in the courts, and the remaining plants will likely be challenged as they reach the permitting stage.

King Coal is getting the full nuclear treatment. I feel its pain :>

by Francois in Paris on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 03:40:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Cor, its easy for you to say, Guvna, living out in the Provinces, but I live in the Imperial Metropole, and I'm not 100% sure that our corrupted political processes can keep the nuclear fuel chain safe from accident, let alone safe from interference during some future Sepoy rebellion.

Of course, there is no doubt that mining our flagrant energy waste, in the short term, and expanding our reliance on sustainable renewable energy sources, over the long term, can meet North American needs, if we cut our sail to fit our cloth, so the nuclear issue is not as pressing on this side of the Atlantic.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:15:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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