Knives Come Out – Guest Commentary

Hi Captain Obvious,

Thanks as always for your thoughtful commentaries and challenges to the status quo and “politically correct” thinking out there.

You ask for another lens to look through so let me provide that.

Do you remember the commercial “binoculars” that you could put in a quarter atop a mountain or the Empire State Building?  I see Captain Obvious looking through one of those on the North side of the building, and maybe the Southside as well.  And what you are seeing–the grifting, the hypocrisy, the funny math–is all accurate as you look North to Cambridge, and maybe even South to Washington DC and the policy makers in the US Senate and current White House.

For me, as I look West, out my lens I see things a little different.

I don’t drink Climate Kool Aid nor do I believe that humans can or will save the planet from its final destiny predicted in the last chapter of the Bible.  My lens also includes a filter about power grid efficiency, about practicality, about lower auto expenses, and personal choice.  Having had six electric vehicles personally, I know the good, bad and ugly about these cars.  I don’t expect them to do everything and have never preached that they are the solution to climate change.  It is possible for a person to like and promote something for reasons altogether different from another person who has a completely different mindset, motive–and lens.

I see electric vehicles as yet another powertrain choice for consumers, including commercial entities. We saw Oldsmobile and Chevy introduce diesel powertrains in the mid-70s when the only place to buy diesel fuel was at a truck stop.  Some people, including members of my family, bought these vehicles and were proud to drive the latest technology, despite the inconvenience.  We had a Red, White and Blue 1976 Chevy Patriotic Truck to prove it–and it ran on that Diesel. The Arab oil embargo brought America to its knees and people wanted to do something. And that is their choice.

Fast forward to EVs.  Buying a toy, being a geek, getting a first-of-a-kind vehicle, showing off–there is nothing wrong with any of this.  Sure, the Kool Aid makers are passing around the glasses, and some are drinking and driving, but the reality is that cars are being manufactured, people are buying or leasing them with federal incentives, and life goes on. It is good for the economy–albeit somewhat disputed.   But so was the train and automobile.  These vehicles get people from point A to point B, albeit at a slower average rate of speed, but that is simply an adjustment people make, like getting diesel at a truck stop. And it doesn’t really matter WHY they are driving them.

There is no question that electricity made at scale has less emissions than, say a million 12-year old cars with degraded catalytic converter exhaust systems. And many of those plants are out of EPA areas of non-attainment, where the cars are still in that zone.  For example, our two big coal plants are in Bartow and Monroe County–both out of that EPA naughty zone. So adding zero-emission vehicles in congested cities with poor air quality is a net positive because the coal or gas powering those cars are relatively clean and out of the range of that lens Captain Obvious is looking through.  It is a net positive.

But what about that overnight charging that consumers and most certainly the Amazons of the world will engage in.  How much help to our electric grid is utilizing that seldom used energy in lowering prices for everyone–fractionally.  Not even the Kool Aid drinkers talk about this.  But I can see that grid from the West side of the building, and I like what these vehicles do for it.

What so many of my traditional GOP supporters react to is the loud, Kool Aid drinking messages, and it turns them off.  They go negative against EVs looking for the evil at every turn in effort to push back this supposed wave of public policy washing up on the shore.  I know the pushback all to well, and I am often mistaken for a left-leaning person–though I am anything but.  I love technology.  I love efficiency.  I love personal choice.

Captain Obvious has a great platform to speak from because he drives an EV.  He is all to aware of the car’s weaknesses.  He also knows utilities and all-things-grid.  And he knows boats too.  And when the tide is pushing the boats in a direction that is contrary to where he is going, he is like a lighthouse showing people the deeper channel with his beacon aglow.  And I respect that.  But there is another lens, and I wanted to make sure everyone walked all the way around the building so they can take a look from my evangelical, regulatory perspective.

Commissioner Tim Echols 
Vice-Chair, GA PSC
Founder, Clean Energy Roadshow
Host, Energy Matters Radio


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