Friday, October 15, 2010

The Wisdom of Objectives

Lately a variety of interactions from reading the newspaper to offering advice about a friends future plans have led me to a simple piece of wisdom: Consider your objectives. If a person can identify their objective they can easily build a plan of action towards that goal.

For example, the City of Tallahassee is currently discussing peak and off-peak pricing of utilities. There are serious questions about their objectives. What will the peak and off-peak pricing accomplish? Traditionally peak and off-peak pricing have been utilized to reduce the strain on the power generators, which is more wasteful in terms of energy production when it needs to ramp up so quickly . .  . like when everybody flips the light switch at hom following the 5 o'clock rush hour. However, the pilot program the city is considering would be applicable to the first 2,000 residents to sign up. The likely outcome? People who will benefit from leaving the flat $.12 per kw/hr for the $.08 (7pm-7am) and $.22 (7am-7pm) rate structure will be the people who sign up. Will this reduce energy consumption by those households during peak hours? Probably not since most of them would say, "I don't use energy during that time anyway!"

Either the City of Tallahassee utilities has a different objective than I'm considering. For example, after the pilot they could use the data to convince people of the likely saving they would receive. But, in terms of strain on the power generator I'm not convinced this is going to have the impact you would get from a randomized pilot (is that legal?). In any case, I would need data to make such a claim about Talgov not seeing a change in energy usage from the pilot program.

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