EDIT: Since writing this post, it has come to my attention that “Just Energy” is just a scam. The Better Business Bureau has rated them an F on a scale of A+ to F. I’m going to leave the post up, however, since their being-a-scam I think actually strengthens my central claim which is in opposition to firms (or scams) such as these.
It has been said by other contributors to BuryCoal.com that increased nationalization of the power grid is not politically possible in our current political climate. Â So, maybe we should support private market solutions? What this might mean was made real for me when two representatives for “Just Energy” stopped by my house this weekend. “Just Energy” is a firm which sells electricity through the Ontario power grid to consumers who choose to pick it as their energy supplier. Consumers in Ontario, apparently, have various different options for purchasing power – they can pick the normal option (Ontario power), and pay the regulated rate. Or, they can go with an alternative supplier. Alternative suppliers might save them money in the short term when market rates are low, or in the case of Just Energy, people might be willing to pay more to know that their energy is coming from only “Green” sources.
So how does it work? You pay the market rate plus 3 cents per kilowatt hour, and in exchange all of your power is produced by hydro and wind. I asked the representatives if they were looking for more customers because currently they were under-producing, i.e. not putting as much power onto the grid than their dams or wind farms enabled. It quickly became apparent that this would be insane – so it seems that what happens is that if they are already supplying clean energy to all their “customers”, i.e. those who check “Just Energy” on their bill, they can sell power to the grid at the market rate. So, it’s quite understandable why they would want youngÂ minionsÂ running from house to house convincing you to pay them market rate plus 3 cents, since theirÂ opportunityÂ cost is to sell it to the general grid at market rate.
Now, what is the logic here, from a consumer ethics point of view? It is true that supplying more capital to Just Energy will allow them to build more green power generation. Although, only if they believe that extra capital isÂ warrantedÂ by the market demand for over priced (with respect to the market at least) “green” energy. What seems far more likely is that up to the point where they can supply all their energy to consumers willing to pay the extra fee, they will simply pocket the extra 3 cents per kw/h.
To my mind, paying above the market price for energy misses the point of being an activist for climate change entirely. Green energy is only “over priced” because the market rate does not represent the real cost of carbon heavy energy. The real cost is the extent to which man made climate change will make the future world a less bountiful one than the one we live in – we are effectively stealing from the future. Everyone, even Ron Paul, agrees that stealing is wrong, and that preventing crimes like theft is a legitimate role for government. What is disagreed upon, not just by the extreme libertarian right, but by the mainstream elite today, is that stealing from the future constitutes stealing. In Larry King’s words, “No one cares about 50 years from now.”