Unfortunately my electricity was on during Larry King last night. Among Larry's guests discussing the blackouts were former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, and Gray Davis. A few bits from the transcript:
RICHARDSON: "You know, Larry, when I was secretary of energy, I went around the country warning that this could happen."
DAVIS: And I have been listening to Governor Richardson, I agree of much what he said.
CLINTON: Well, Larry, I agree with Governor Davis and I know Governor Richardson is very knowledgeable about this as well, that we just haven't made the kind of national investments that we need, particularly in the transmission system. I happen to think that making sure we have a reliable, affordable system of energy is a national priority. And I don't think that this administration sees it that way. They have continued to try to push deregulation and privatization, and to try to undo a lot of the systems in changes that many of us thought were important and necessary that we tried to work on during the Clinton administration under Secretary Richardson's leadership. And frankly to throw in a lot of roadblocks in the way of Governor Davis, when he tried to clean up some of the problems that he had with the manipulation of the energy markets by Enron and others. So, no, I don't think the federal administration under this president is really focused on making sure we don't have these problems in the future.
KING: Bill, I know this is probably a stupid question, but we'll ask it any way. Why does it come on sporadically? Why can't it just come on?
RICHARDSON: Larry, you are talking to me?
KING: Yes, I am sorry, governor. Why is it sporadic?
RICHARDSON: Well, the problem is that the electricity grid is all interconnected but some systems that are more overloaded than the others. And I think that what Governor Davis said made a lot of sense, and he doesn't get the credit he deserves for dealing with these kind of blackouts that he had. He has massive conservation measures in California that are very important.
KING: Do you think you can defeat the recall?
DAVIS: I think in the end, we will. Because I think people are fair and I trust their judgment.
KING: And Governor Richardson, you are confident that this kind of thing will lead to what you want?
DAVIS: Yes because I'm optimistic about this country. We're a great country. I just wish we didn't react to crises to do the right thing. But if there's one thing we need to do is to have mandatory reliability standards so these utilities don't overload the system. And left a lot of people victims, families, ordinary people that have nothing to do with this problem become the victims. And that's not right.
KING: We take electricity for granted, don't we governor.
DAVIS: We do.
KING: We turn the switch, it goes on.
DAVIS: We do and we shouldn't. We can see what happens in terms of potential loss of life, tremendous inconvenience, and obviously there will be a huge economic loss associated with this.
KING: Governor Richardson, we take energy for granted, don't we?
RICHARDSON: Yes, we do.
KING: Going to be there!
RICHARDSON: We go around in this and big cars and that's fun. I'm not very good at it. I have an SUV for security.
RICHARDSON: But we should all be more energy efficient. We should all promote fuel-efficient technologies and we haven't done that. We don't like to bite the bullet. But I do think that the government can do its part and promote production of new source of energy, oil and gas is fine. Clean. Done cleanly. Conservation measures, we've got to do more. New technologies, emphasize wind and biomass and solar. We just talk about it. We never do it. And then finally, our grid systems, our transmission lines, our generating facilities. Everyone takes them for granted but we need to modernize them. We need to invest in these new technologies. We need to get some utilities like these monopoly powers that overload to stop doing this. It takes leadership. It takes the president. It takes the Congress to move forward. It takes governors. And I think Governor Davis bit the bullet and made his energy situation a lot better.
KING: Thank you.