Oh yes, rolling blackouts (or Gray-outs as I like to think of them) are coming, and they will be here in abundance this summer. The state of California is in an energy crisis and the governor is in hot water.
Everything in California seemed fine when Gov. Gray Davis took the oath of office in 1999. In fact, things seemed almost perfect. He had just handily defeated Dan Lungren by almost 20 points for the governor’s seat; prior to that, he defeated two powerful and wealthy opponents for the Democratic nomination. The economy was strong and the state’s coffers were overflowing with money. Industries that traditionally gave money only to Republican candidates were now waiting in line to fill Davis’ re-election war chest in order to garner some protection. He was even billed as a contender for the Democratic ticket in the 2004 presidential election. Now, however, it seems as though Davis may be searching for a new job in 2003.
Many are curious about what happened to cause this huge energy crunch. The simple answer is that the population of the state has been growing and no new power facilities have been built. The biggest reason for this is strict environmental laws. Suppliers have been unable to produce enough juice to meet the growing demand and the price of energy has been skyrocketing. This has left Davis with a lot of questions to answer.
Recently, Davis has gone on the offensive in an attempt to shift the blame from himself onto President Bush and former-Gov. Pete Wilson. The problem with this strategy is that the president of the United States is not responsible for the energy supply in California and Pete Wilson has been out of office for almost two years. Why is it that we are only just beginning to focus on this problem now?
Davis has now come up with a few plans for how to get our energy supply back on track. His first plan is to increase production. No shit, what a good idea! Wish he’d thought of that last year. He is also planning on having the state help lower costs by subsidizing the production of new power plants. The problem with this is that they are expensive and take a long time to build.
Davis has stated that the power crunch in California will be solved by 2003. My calendar is telling me that it is still 2001, and I don’t think that many people have the kind of patience that lasts for two years and spans two hot summers and two very cold winters. Things are looking grim, or should we say Gray?
Another brilliant idea from the Davis administration is to begin using the government’s power of eminent domain to start confiscating power plants. The plan is for the state to control the production of power. If he is seriously thinking of doing this, someone should tell him to resign right now. Government employees can barely operate the DMV, much less run a power plant!
As of late, energy suppliers have been raising prices, and in order to keep the cost of juice down, Davis has been using state funds to subsidize prices. This is just quickly flushing the state’s funds right down the toilet.
The power debacle here in California is gaining national recognition. This is not necessarily a good thing! The residents of many states are getting more than just a little upset with the Golden State. Since we cannot supply enough power for ourselves, we are buying it from producers in other states. The net effect is that it raises their energy prices as well.
As far as the next governor’s race is concerned, two Republicans have stepped up to the plate to take a shot at the weakened Davis. These are Secretary of State Bill Jones and William Simon III – and there is a strong chance that Arnold Schwarzenneger will run as well. I’m excited by this possibility. The cost of getting name recognition in this state is enormous and Schwarzenneger already has that. I can see him as a favorite of the media and the people alike. In the following year, I can see Arnie going head-to-head with Davis in the debates. He need mutter only one statement in his thick Austrian accent: “It’s time to go nuclear, baby.” And it will be bye-bye, Davis.
Michael C. Warnken is a senior economics major and philosophy major.