Ever since this continent was electrificated, Americans have been allowed to plug anything they want into their own electrical outlet.
The history of electricity is a biography of modernism. Originally intended just to light homes, electric power was soon used to run sewing machines, fans, teakettles, and toasters. According to Dr. Rachel P. Maines the fifth electrical appliance to be invented, was a device to treat hysteria (which is used in more homes today, than sewing machines and electric teakettles). Shortly after hysteria was cured, electric irons and vacuum cleaners became feasible.
Following the big war, came an explosion of things you could stick into an outlet: hair driers, electric drills, popcorn poppers, and television sets Not to mention, those goofy things that have a big belt and motor and are supposed to help you lose weight by jiggling your belly.
Today a home built only a generation ago is woefully inadequate for the number of appliances that need to find a plug. Hence, there has been a great market in power-strips. In my home office, (built in 1959) I actually have one outlet branching off into four different power-strips to handle all the appliances required of my profession.
Before the modern epoch, what you decided to plug in the privacy of your own home was an accepted civil right. If you’re willing to pay the bill, power it up. I have an old RCA refrigerator in my basement that uses far more electricity than a sleek new Korean import but it looks so cool, I don’t mind making my electric meter spin like a circular saw every time I restock it with beer.
A friend of mine, was so enamored with some of the waterfalls of Las Vegas that he built one in his back yard. It was a masterpiece of boulders and whitewater cascading across the 30-foot slope of his lakefront home. He used three high-powered electrical pumps to keep water churning down the hill at a spectacular rate of 25,000 gallons per hour. It took him months to build, but only one electric bill, to realize that it wasn’t a 24/7 attraction, and should only be activated on special occasions. The free market encourages conservation.
When President Bush signed The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 we saw the first limits on which appliances we can use in our homes. (This bill is known by other names, such as the light bulb ban, or the 100 watt stockpiling act of 2012. It was spearheaded by GOP Rep. Fred Upton, who is this/close to assuming the Chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. That’s right, the GOP Rep who hates Thomas Edison is set to create energy policy for the whole country.) The law was necessary, because most Americans prefer incandescent bulbs. They are more aesthetically pleasing, and help heat your home in the winter. Most people believe the extra money spent is well worth the cost of electricity. After all, what is more economical than sitting in the dark?
The next step in Green won’t even require Congressional approval. The Department of Energy recently decided they have authority over appliances in your home. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently issued five new energy efficiency standards for large appliances, and is reworking the policy to include ten new categories. According to Assistant Energy Secretary Cathy Zoi “…we have a mandate. Where we can actually just issue regulations and do market transformation.”
It is like we are moving backwards in time, seeing modern life outlawed one convenience at a time. Right now social engineers are busy working on “Smart Grid” technology. (The perennial question: if environmental choices are actually so intelligent, why do the marketers have to convince us, with names like “Smart Car,” and “Insight?”) The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set aside $11 billion dollars to begin construction of that grid.
Smart Grid sounds harmless and modern, but it will be incredibly intrusive. Appliances in the future will have microchips installed; when you plug them in, they will handshake with the grid, and a central authority will determine whether that appliance deserves to get power or not. If a bureaucrat in Washington decides that it’s not hot enough for you to put on the air conditioner, your air conditioner will not work. If the Fed decides that Margaritas lead to too much trouble on Cinco de Mayo, all blenders can be disabled for the day.
They can also turn off radios, televisions and computers. In the era of electronic information, restricting the freedom of the press is as easy as turning off the light. The idea is to conserve power, but a Smart Government will be able to use the technology to retain power as well.
And as for my beautiful pink basement refrigerator, you can forget that. In fact every appliance that was built before the smart grid will eventually be forbidden power. Which means that once the “Smart” Grid is fully operational, everything in your house that requires a plug will probably need to be replaced –including your hysteria device (which will also leave a record the central office, every time it’s turned on).
There is no question that Air Conditioners in Washington DC will be functional year round, while those of us out in Red State American will deal with the limitations of windmills that are incapable of keeping the entire nation cool in the stagnant summer air.
Isn’t technology wonderful?