Barack Obama repeated his call for a 15% reduction in electrical demand in Youngstown, Ohio, and held California up as a model for the rest of the nation to follow. Claiming that the Golden State made great strides towards efficiency, Obama apparently forgot the travails California went through:
Finally, I will call on businesses, government, and the American people to meet the goal of reducing our demand for electricity 15% by the end of the next decade. This is by far the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to reduce our energy consumption – and it will save us $130 billion on our energy bills. One report found that right here in Ohio, improvements in energy efficiency can help save homes and businesses $1.5 billion in energy costs by 2020.
The state of California has implemented such a successful efficiency strategy that while electricity consumption grew 60% in this country over the last three decades, it didn’t grow at all in California. There is no reason we can’t do the same thing all across America.
Let’s emulate California? First, California didn’t cut their demand; they only kept it from increasing. Next, people may remember how well California’s energy policy worked over the last two decades. The aging infrastructure, price mandates, and botched privatization led the state into years of rolling blackouts, where utilities simply cut off supply in order to compensate for an inability to meet demand. Governor Gray Davis got recalled from office over the issue, but the blackouts continued for years afterward.
And again, California never did reduce demand, not even by 5%, let alone 15%. I’m not sure Californians would feel like a great example of an energy policy that worked, and I doubt the rest of the nation feels differently. And Obama once again repeated his pledge to get a million more plug-hybrids (at 150 mpg!) on the road while cutting electrical demand, a neat trick that Obama still hasn’t explained.
Obama also talked about jobs, but for some reason didn’t mention the jobs that would get created through a responsible energy policy:
The payoff from these investments in renewable energy sources will be renewable energy jobs across Ohio and across America. Now, I know that over the past eight years, you’ve lost more 236,000 manufacturing jobs in this state. But I also know that Ohio has the second highest potential of all fifty states to create new wind energy manufacturing jobs – and investing in wind power could increase workers’ wages in Ohio by more than $3.5 billion through the year 2020. I also know that with the right investments, this state could save $24 billion a year that you spend importing energy, and instead, power two million homes using wind power.
Eventually, when mass-production sources of energy are found, it will result in jobs. Those will come much later than even Obama’s pessimistic predictions of oil production from domestic drilling, at least ten years out and maybe more than that. Domestic drilling, however, would create jobs now. ANWR alone would create 750,000 jobs, and deep-sea drilling more than that. It would create American jobs at home as investments increased in our own resources — and could easily be done at the same time and in parallel to work developing energy sources of the future.
Why not do both? Obama never explains that, just as he never explains how we’ll cut 15% of our electrical demand while transferring vehicles to electricity.