Angry people are protesting down on Market. I'm watching them from the 5th floor of the skyscraper where I work, through the plate glass windows that separate within from without. They're chanting "we won't pay!" and waving signs condemning PG & E.
The PG & E they're condemning is the utility branch of the PG & E shell company. I'm working on a project for a different branch -- GTN, the pipeline transportation division. They're separate but not separate. Owned by the same parent but otherwise unrelated.
It's strange to watch them from up here. I feel like Mr. Burns. "Look at them, Smithers. Pah!! Every Joe Sixpack and Johnny Lunchpail thinks he can get power without paying for it. Fools! Release the hounds!"
Like most issues that matter, power regulation is complicated. The problem is that when they deregulated the industry (forcing the production, transporation and distribution of power to be done by different companies, instead of one company) they didn't deregulate all of it -- just production and transportation. Continuing price caps on distribution meant that PG&E utility had to eat the rising prices charged by the other sectors. Demand kept increasing but nobody in California wants a power plant in their backyard. The other side will tell you that it never should have been deregulated in the first place. Either way, something's got to change.
Last weekend I went snowboarding, at Heavenly on the California side of Lake Tahoe. It was reasonably x-treme. As I was telling Andy, I think I might have "maxed the zone" or at least ripped a shred.