California: Big Brother Will Control Your Thermostat
(And just because it didn’t happen by 1984 doesn’t mean it isn’t going to.)
A new revision to Title 24 is in the works for 2008 and it includes a number of improvements and enhancements that are largely good sense items and should be non-controversial. . . .“But surely,” somebody who likes the nanny state might say, “sometimes there are power emergencies that require people to conserve?”
What should be controversial in the proposed revisions to Title 24 is the requirement for what is called a “programmable communicating thermostat” or PCT. Every new home and every change to existing homes’ central heating and air conditioning systems will required to be fitted with a PCT beginning next year following the issuance of the revision. Each PCT will be fitted with a “non-removable” FM receiver that will allow the power authorities to increase your air conditioning temperature setpoint or decrease your heater temperature setpoint to any value they chose. During “price events” those changes are limited to +/- four degrees F and you would be able to manually override the changes. During “emergency events” the new setpoints can be whatever the power authority desires and you would not be able to alter them.
In other words, the temperature of your home will no longer be yours to control. Your desires and needs can and will be overridden by the state of California through its public and private utility organizations. All this is for the common good, of course.
In the first place, problems with the power supply in California are mostly the result of misguided government regulation, and especially the unwillingness of environmentalists to allow adequate energy supplies.
We all know the acronym NIMBY, meaning “not in my back yard.” If it’s prisons, or landfills or a nuclear plant, everybody wants it put it somewhere else.
We know a fellow who says that in California, the rule is BANANA, meaning “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything.”
So we have the usual downward spiral: government regulates something, and messes up the market. And this becomes an excuse for even more regulation. We see this with things like rent control, which gives landlords an incentive to let their apartments run down. How does government respond? With stricter regulation.
But even given real scarcity, the proper policy is to increase prices, and let people decide whether energy means so much to them that they are willing to pay the higher price. A lot won’t be willing to, and the demand will decrease. And the higher price will encourage more production, making scarcity rare.
Thus increasing prices when energy is in short supply is a good idea, but that can be done without the Big Brother apparatus.
Of course, there are loopholes.
EXCEPTION 1 to Section 112(c): Gravity gas wall heaters, gravity floor heaters, gravity room heaters, non-central electric heaters, fireplaces or decorative gas appliances, wood stoves, room air conditioners, and room air-conditioner heat pumps need not comply with this requirement.So just as people who want a large vehicle to drive can get around Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards by buying an SUV, people who want to be warmer need only buy a heater.
But the problem is that these ways of evading the energy Nazis tend to be rather expensive. Which is part of the reason we see poor people driving old junker cars, and affluent people driving SUVs.
But the real problem comes when the infrastructure of control is put in place, and public attitudes have come to accept that government can regulate peoples lives in minute detail.
At that point, the Nazis have won.