Power Myths and the Onion


I am a long time fan of the Onion… although they traffic in humor, sometimes they really nail an issue right on the head. A recent (fake) article was a post by British Petroleum’s (BP) CEO is called “We’re Investing So Much In Alternative Fuels, Sometimes We Almost Forget to Pump Oil!” The article is tongue in cheek as the CEO extols all the work that they have done on publicity and various stunts while just rolling in cash from good ol’ traditional fossil fuels.

“Wow. So why exactly are people still buying gas, when all the cars in the United States are powered by electric batteries by now? They’re not? What?! You’re pulling my leg, right? Surely we’re not still relying on that dinosaur technology after all the effort we’ve put into alternative energy sources and forging an inoffensive corporate identity that reflects a new consciousness of global responsibility. Are we?

Man alive! I’m going to write this down in my planner right now, so I don’t forget to do it later when I’m all caught up in a discussion about wind power and how to maintain the delicate balance of our beautiful, precious ecosystem. “Still pumping oil, question mark.” Well, I’ll look into it, if there’s even anyone left in this multinational corporate headquarters who’s still following that branch of the business.

Wait—the price of oil is what? Over $4 a gallon? No way! Say, we must be making a fortune, huh? How the heck did that happen? Holy cow: Now that I’m looking over these annual revenue figures for the first time, I see that while I was doing all those other things, we made a couple hundred billion bucks!”


ComEd, the electricity distribution company for Illinois that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the massively profitable Exelon, sends out an environmental disclosure statement in your monthly bill. The statement shows just how much progress has been made overall towards getting off fossil fuels (and nuclear power).

ComEd basically gets power from 2 sources – their own assets, which are mainly nuclear plants owned by Exelon along with some coal and natural gas peaker units, and the (mainly) coal fuel powered Midwest Generation (a subsidiary of Edison International, the holding company for Southern California Edison).

From the statement, you can see that the non 1) nuclear 2) coal 3) natural gas fired plants make up a nominal portion of the total power portfolio – about 1% for biomass and another fraction of a percentage for renewable. For all the talk, 1-2% of the total power comes from these non-traditional sources.

Of course, ComEd always features a variety of politically and environmentally correct themes in their ads, pictures of trees blowing in the wind, kids blowing out dandelions, stuff like that.

Read the Onion and see the truth, instead.

Cross posted at www.litgm.blogspot.com

6 thoughts on “Power Myths and the Onion”

  1. I have… ahem… “a friend” who has done some consulting work with ComEd’s marketing department. Much of the work was finding new ways to say, “Going Green” without actually saying, “Going Green.” Another big part was spending days researching other power companies’ marketing materials. I… I mean my friend… can no longer look at a photo of a child prancing through field without thinking of grinding din of hundreds whirring turbines.

  2. As far as I can tell the entire alternative energy business is one extended scam. I’ve been watching it since my teen years during the “energy crisis” when I spent a lot time building alternative energy gadgets out in the barn.

    The efficiency and viability of these technologies has barely budged in 30 years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I really don’t understand all the intense emotional investment in these technologies.

  3. Woe be us if the energy companies ever start thinking and acting like the bad PR they pump out.

    The whole alternate/renewwable energy movement is a fantasy, cultural self-delusion at its most dangerous. It is nuclear or fossil, baby. Just deal with it.

  4. I really don’t understand all the intense emotional investment in these technologies.

    It’s a substitute religion for people who have abandoned traditional religion.

Comments are closed.