Convenient Myths

It is appropriate that at this time of thanksgiving we consider the story we have accepted about Thanksgiving in an honest update.  Yes, we all grew up with that nice, convenient picture of native Americans peacefully sharing their bounty with the earliest settlers from Europe.  If I were to call them invaders, which they were, you would immediately jump on me.  If I were to recount the terrible things they did and that resulted from their presence in this new world to them, you would declare me a liar.

Yet, when the truth does get told we find we have been fed a convenient myth.  Perhaps this myth was timely and appropriate when initiated, but myths have a way of persisting.  Read the full story in the USA Today for yourself to appreciate just how ugly the story really is.

As we do celebrate this myth please do consider what other things you might accept as truth in your life on faith and search more deeply for understanding.  I did that in my faith journey and found some startling things about the origins of my faith.  But, rather than throw out my faith just because there was mythological roots to it, I dug deeper to see what you can learn with myth blended in with facts.

What I hope you will find is that you can “grow up” and “grow out” of simple explanations as we get older and wiser.  We don’t have to get bitter and become a scrooge yelling “bah humbug” if we are willing to consider broader, deeper, and hopefully higher understandings.


It is funny how the English language is picking up so many new meanings for words we grew up with in common use.  When I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal indicating stooping was now the rage, I thought they were referring to the new lows the media were racing towards in their perpetual political commentaries.  I had no idea that this word described the big city rush to leave for the wide-open spaces of rural society where people just put things they didn’t want to take on the front stoop of their apartments. If any of you are twitter fans or use Instagram you probably have seen this.

Susan and I have tried this here in Georgia by placing things we don’t need any longer on the curb.  But generally, no one will come and pick them up. That is until you place a price tag on them.  After a few days, we will write a large sign indicating you can buy the item for $50 … and it will be gone in minutes!

I grabbed the picture here from Instagram.  These are very nice pieces of furniture.  Sure, the blond wood is no longer in style, but someone in need could certainly value this.

Never the less, I am struck by the perceptions of value we are seeing today as we cope with COVID.  The trend to live in cluster communities … called mixed-use in architectural design … is now dead. Everyone wants to move out.  The inventory of homes for sale is at historic lows.

Maybe stooping is just part of downsizing.  Perhaps it is rightsizing.  Maybe it is more about deciding what is important and truly needed in your life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Electricity Pricing

We had massive power outages recently here in Georgia, largely due to trees falling on power lines due to the tropical storm that came through. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to most of us because we have a lot of trees and the winds did seem pretty gusty.  But, what was different this time was the restoration time… it was much longer than normal. Some hypothesized it was due to local crews having been dispatched to the coast where damage was extreme.  Some came up with this or that other answers.

We in the power industry know the intent is to get the power back on as soon as possible for obvious business and customer satisfaction reasons.

So, I was a bit amused by a question we saw on one of our utility online calculators suggesting:  “How do you calculate a bill for the days the power is out due to these storms? Do we get a discount or credit?”

You can imagine my immediate impulse to write this person and tell them they did get a discount for the power they did not use, but the question of a credit for the incident struck me as timely.

After all, as we in this industry do move towards the future we will have to face questions like this more fully than we do now.  Might we charge a premium for perfect power reliability and build DC systems like the one TECO has proposed in Florida?  I think that is entirely possible and I for one would pay a premium for it.  I don’t want to have to go out and buy a generator … but I may after this last outage.

Perhaps we should rethink our position on pricing away from what things cost us to do and focus on what matters to customers.  What is important to them?  Do they really want to be prosumers or is that a result of us not thinking this through.

Maslow studied human behavior and created a way of thinking about what motivates us.  Food, shelter, and safety were so essential to those he studied he put that at the bottom of his famous triangle.  I have blogged before about two other factors that have now become even more important to the average American: battery and Wi-Fi.  No that is not just funny … it is true!

In like manner, I am starting to think our preoccupation with the engineering and financial elements of electricity may be the buggy whip of modern pricing strategies.  Sure, we can offer cost-aligned pricing for prosumers, giving them the benefit of potentially lower prices as they partner with us on the supply and demand challenges.  But, for most customers, I am beginning to think this is a fool’s errand for all the reasons we have seen.

We talk about the voice of the customer and customer journeys.  Maybe we really need to take a deeper dive into what matters to most of them.  I think we are going to be surprised.

Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

I have always enjoyed Garth Brooks.  I do have friends in low places.  And, I can attest to these words from his award winning song by the name of this blog:

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Yep, I could end the blog right there, but there is more to the story.

The flip side of this is you had better be careful to consider what would happen if your prayers were answered.

Here is the situation in the State of Vermont.  Read it for yourself:

It looks like they are going to get their prayers answered and the State can be sued if it fails to meet environmental goals.  Does that really make you happy?  Who is going to pay if it is sued?  Is there some kind of a money tree that can be grown to come up with the money?

I just don’t get it.