Stimulate ThisNow that the stimulus bill is moving into final form, details are leaking out. Since most of the money will not be spent until the second and third year, it is not really a stimulus bill. It is rather more a Trojan horse bill, since it will contain quite a few special passengers. In the words of the president's chief of staff, “Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things.”
Now reports are beginning to emerge, and one of the most insidious little bombs is the "decoupling" provision for utility rates. What this means is there will be no further link between electric rates, say, and the amount of electricity you use. That means that, as we are forced (or choose) to use more efficient appliances and our electrical use goes down, the rates will go up to compensate. Then, when or if we buy electric vehicles, the rates will remain high. Or presumably we can ask our legislators (nicely) to pass a new law setting special rates for electrical vehicle use. But even that is dependent on the utilities installing new electric meters, so that the "special" use can be rated on the lower, politically correct rate for electric vehicles. But then the gasoline tax and road use taxes will be piled on the electric rates.
While we are on this subject of Obama "calling for forty million meters to be installed" it might be interesting to look into the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, which directed state utility commissions to install the new meters. But since Bush signed that legislation, Obama has "called" for exactly the same thing, so as to get the credit. "Utilities are planning to deploy more than 40 million smart meters throughout the country from 2007 through 2010, according to a report published by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission." But now that Obama wants it, and money has no real value any more, it is now for the government to pay for them, with their usual crack efficiency and timeliness.
This is pretty clear, we are getting screwed by this stimulus plan. It is the un-stimulus screw - no stimulation, no kisses, no lube.
If you have a head for details, or you think I'm kidding, you can read the report (.pdf) summarizing the bill. Not to worry, it is a mere 76 pages.