The Powerful Law of Unintended Consequences
A raging forest fire is hard to imagine in Northside Richmond, but there could be other emergencies where the city and its residents would come to regret the loss of vehicle travel lanes on Brook Road. A recent deadly fire in California we all watched on television may be giving us a warning.
Apparently, evacuations from the lightning-quick brush fire around Paradise, California, were complicated by a 2014 decision there to impose a “road diet” on a four-lane road that became the escape route. The push for “road diets” is also behind the argument for creating new bike lanes in both directions of several miles of Brook Road, a topic of earlier Bacon’s Rebellion posts and furious local debate.
A description of the bottleneck created by the highway adjustments in Paradise, and its impact on the fire evacuation, was published on wattsupwiththat.com, an interesting blog I only found because it linked to one of my posts on Dominion Energy.
The bottom line problem is that people just like building in dangerous places in California, including fire-prone areas. When I lived in Southern California in the 60’s there were regular local stories about houses sliding into the ocean or homes destroyed by brush fires, only to be quickly rebuilt. The population has grown, development has pushed further into countryside and mountains, and now there are regular national stories.
Bottlenecks have already developed on Franklin Street because of its seldom-used bike lane. Just about any activity (parked or parking delivery trucks, leaf removal) in the one remaining travel lane causes a backup. Similar bottlenecks will happen if the Brook Road project proceeds. In both cases there are parallel streets that were not available to evacuees in the High Sierra, but it still calls into question whether safety ever trumps ideology with some people.
Next Step, Supreme Court of Virginia?
The State Corporation Commission issued an opinion Friday reaffirming its earlier decision that Dominion Energy Virginia must include payments it receives from the PJM regional transmission authority along with the payments it makes to PJM in the separate Rider T1 it puts on all our bills.
Following the commission’s August decision the utility filed for reconsideration. The next step, should it decide to take it, is to the Virginia Supreme Court.
The amount of money in dispute is minor, so the precedent must be the point. Dominion Energy is seeking to book the payments it is getting back from PJM into base rates, which increases the amount customers must pay in Rider T1 (for transmission) and increases the profit the company earns (and keeps) in base rates – base rates that seemingly will never be adjusted downward again and profits which may never be shared as rate credits again.
“Put simply, Dominion seeks to charge customers dollar-for-dollar for these transmission costs through Rider Tl but opposes crediting customers in the same manner for transmission revenues received for the exact same service,” the order reads.
Since 2007, more and more of the company’s operations are being paid for with stand-alone rate adjustment clauses outside of base rates. New renewable generation may be funded that way, and the coming rebuild of the distribution grid might be as well. If there are to be silos keeping all the costs in one place, the same silos should hold any and all related revenues to offset those costs.There are currently no comments highlighted.