Washington DC is Literally Full of Explosive Stinky Gas

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 19th, 2014

Week in Review

One of the riches places to live in the United States is in the Washington DC area.  And you know what you can do to rich people?  You can increase their utility rates.  Because whatever they charge a rich person is going to be able to pay it.  Easily.  In fact, they won’t object to rising utility rates.  For they have so much they wouldn’t want to deny pensions and health insurance to the working people.  At least they wouldn’t want to be seen as denying pension and health insurance to the working people.  So they don’t complain about rising utility rates.  Which is probably why stuff like this happens (see D.C. Full of Gassy Leaks, Researchers Say by Alan Neuhauser posted 1/17/2014 on US News and World Report).

Nearly 6,000 natural gas leaks were discovered beneath the streets of the nation’s capital last year when a team of researchers from Duke and Boston universities surveyed all 1,500 miles of the city’s roadways, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

A dozen were leaking enough methane to explode, while others were letting off enough gas to fuel from two to seven homes…

On average, pipelines across the country lose about 1.6 percent of the natural gas they transmit. The pipelines in D.C., by contrast, were losing about 4 percent of their gas. These findings, Jackson says, highlight “the opportunity to fix them.”

Gas leaks?  So what.  Just raise the utility rate.  It’s easier.  And less costly.

Public utilities are highly regulated.  They just can’t raise their rates.  They need the approval of government to do that.  The problem with these public utilities is that they are very close to the people that regulate them.  Who often approve high rates in exchange for something nice from the utility to show their appreciation.  It’s this kind of cronyism that brought satellite television into the market to compete against cable television.  Because cable television companies had some real sweetheart deals that were gouging the consumers.  Now the cable companies have a lot of competition.  And they have to be a lot more creative in how they charge their customers today.

Competition makes everything better for the consumer.  Where there is no competition you get high utility rates.  And a lot of explosive natural gas leaking up from buried pipelines.

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