Snap! They got the power

Ouch. 

The price of utilities has risen again. Plain old electricity is expensive and the bad news is it’s only going to cost more and more and more. One of the biggest reasons here in Cayman is that we are dependent on diesel fuel to power the generators at CUC and as fuzzy and cute as Sparky their mascot looks he can’t help us.  

CUC is a company that is in business and for any business to stay in operation they have to make a profit. It is easy at first look to be mad at CUC over this but we shouldn’t be. It’s not CUC’s fault at all – be happy we have CUC, they are a great company and they do a top notch job delivering clean safe electricity to your door.  

If you were here after Ivan came and mugged us you’d realise how much we need and depend on a steady supply of electricity to have a normal life. Our whole modern world is based on it. Around the world most electricity is created by fossil fuels like coal or petroleum powering the generators. A lucky few places have waterfalls and dams to make hydroelectric power but most places don’t. More and more countries are using more and more fossil fuels and as the demand goes up so will the prices. 

I can tell you exactly how high the price of petroleum will go though. It will go exactly as high as people are willing to pay. If the price of gas and diesel goes to $25 a gallon people will still buy it, cursing and swearing yes, but will still buy it. If at $50 a gallon absolutely no one will buy it and we are all willing to sit in the dark and sweat then they will lower the price to $49.99 a gallon and see if it sells. If it does that will be the top price.  

Do you still like a free market economy? That’s not really a fair question; you don’t have a lot of choices and it’s not a free market at all for many things. The real villains are… us. 

Yes, us. 

We are oil gluttons and depend on oil provided by major oil companies that are smartly organised to maximize profits. The major oil companies buy and sell barrels of oil at the same price that they set and control so they regulate it and us. If it was a really free market there would be lots of different prices on oil and gas – even happy hours, ha ha. In downtown Caracas, Venezuela gas is 50 cents a gallon. Cayman could buy its own tanker and buy oil from The Chavez cronies but that can’t happen in our world.  

Let’s give an example: if you want tires I recommend Larry’s, some people like LT’s, or Benson’s in West Bay is real good too – great prices and service. 

The point is that there are lots of good and competitive tire places in Cayman but for juice you got one choice and that is CUC. Whereever you live there is one electric company. You can’t get Fred’s Electric if you don’t like CUC. It’s a monopoly, not a happy word for most consumers  

 

Way back when 

We all had a warning when I was a kid in the 70s (1970s not the 1870s) the first gas shortage in the U.S. should have been the starting bell for development of solar or wind power. We just kept on as we were and cars got bigger and thirstier for gas. If the present trend continues a Hummer will be considered a dainty compact economy car in 10 years or so. 

A few years ago solar and wind power were considered a high hippy dream idea but it is the only way to go for the future. Eventually the gas and oil will run out and we will have to use electric cars or buy horses. There is no such thing as clean coal, which is a shame because it is still incredibly abundant in north America and other parts of the world.  

Nuclear power always attracts earth quakes, Sean Penn, Iranian terrorists and meltdowns so that is out too. Wind and solar today are expensive to set up and get going, but if they’d started taking it seriously in 1972 the cost would be nominal by now. A lot of people think big wind turbines are ugly. I don’t think so; I think what is ugly is living in paradise but having to spend every penny you can make on electricity and gasoline. 

Well why didn’t they the governments and companies and all the people we call “they” get us going on hippie solar power in the 70s then? That’s easy: because the big oil companies make huge contributions to get politicians elected and like the money they are making selling their product.  

Those big oil companies don’t own the sun. If they did they would be happy to sell us sunlight at $5.89 a gallon. Oil companies are businesses too and for any business to stay in business it has to make a profit. Do you see a pattern forming here? 

Company executives’ first and only duty is to their stockholders, not us. How the company big shots get raises and to keep their jobs is to increase the bottom line and sadly that usually means our bottom line decreases by a proportional amount. When you take away competition either through a monopoly or a conspiratorial group like OPEC that acts as a monopoly you gain control of it all – the market the price and the supply. Your company wins, your stock holders are happy, you the big executive get a big bonus and become one of the richest 1 per cent in the world as the rest of us get poorer. If you are a real lucky oil executive maybe you get a trip to a beautiful island in the Caribbean like Grand Cayman and you can buy back some of your expensive gas and see what it feels like. 

So what can we do? Well, not much but really, but we vote with our wallets and hopefully that will spur forward some changes in our lifetime. Fossil fuels cause global warming and the world population is on the rise so surely as a people we should cooperate with one another to help solve our problems. We are all one race one people.  

The DNA of every man and woman on earth is almost identical we are one family. The DNA of horses and zebras is more different than the DNA of say a man from Kenya and a woman from Siberia. We have truly been blessed by God and given the use of such a marvellous planet that works perfectly if we just let it. 

Hopefully before we burn it down blow it up or ruin it we will figure out a way to get our greed and appetites in check and live within our means in a sustainable way.  

We surely can find a way to take care of this big beautiful blue world and all of our brothers and sisters here on God’s favourite planet. 

One that has always been solar powered. 

 

Contact [email protected] with offers of marriage, stand up gigs, sit down meals and anything that involves lying down. 

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