Tech startups need cheap electricity, too

I was pleased to read stories in this week’s Daily Sentinel about the number of tech companies trying to start in our area.

It’s not easy to start a business of any kind, but startup tech endeavors tend to be around the failure rate of new restaurants — although its probably easier to start a tech company in your garage than it is a restaurant. Plus, if the business is unsuccessful you get to park your car back in the garage, which is something of an upside.

The technology business is a little bit like a combination of prophecy and hard work. Even if you’re fortunate enough to predict the next trend or see the crucial breakthrough that can empower your idea — you have to work relentlessly to seize that knowledge and make it your own before someone else beats you to it.

The stakes can be high. For instance, the first person to come up with a working app detailing the cleanest bathrooms and their distance from your moving vehicle along Interstate 70 will become a very wealthy individual, probably flying around the country with rappers like ASAP Rocky and Earl Sweatshirt.

There’s another thing that is critical to this kind of success and that’s our old friend funding. For most it’s hard to come by but for some — the connected riding the political tides of the day — it’s as easy as filling out an application.

Under the previous administration, many of the energy decisions were directed more by antipathy toward certain sources of energy production than they were by optimism toward the alternatives at hand.

Fossil fuels of any variety were like a plague on the planet, which would lead to its eventual demise or reduce its population to a troll-like existence, most likely underground to escape the scorching heat, rising tides, crushing winters and any weather change imaginable — desert hurricanes, waterspouts of fire over the remains of Columbus Ohio and, if one believes the predictions of CNN’s founder Ted Turner, cannibalism, which I’m hoping was a possibility he thought was a bad thing.

Money was flowing directly at wind power which is unlikely to be of much use except for ridding the world of birds and bats.  Personally, I don’t get it.

The other major recipient was solar energy, which is a promising technology but clearly was not ready for the demands and expectations placed upon it to replace fossil fuels — and save the world from having to have the neighbors over for dinner in a whole new way.

Connected folks received loan guarantees from the federal government, because private industry and investors who were using their own money weren’t very interested in the projects. So government said it would guarantee the loans, which often were quickly spent on interesting things like really cool buildings and fountains, to say nothing of large salaries — then the companies folded and taxpayers paid back the loans.

Many people think that because we have a new president who is slowing down the implementation of punishing regulations on proven energy production and ending damaging policies toward coal and natrual gas, that some sanity may return.

However, that’s not happening in Colorado, because Gov. John Hickenlooper, apparently auditioning yet again for a run at president or something, has signed an executive order to force the state of Colorado to abide by the Paris climate accord, from which the United States has withdrawn.

There are many silly things as part of this misadventure, one of which is the goal of reducing sales of electricity by 2 percent in a rapidly growing state. You do this by making it very expensive.

In fact, according to the Energy Policy Center since 2001 the cost of energy in Colorado, in general, has gone up 67 percent and the cost of energy for commercial purposes 78 percent. Household income has increased about 24 percent.

So, if you want those tech companies to succeed or be attracted to the state, just try and find some that don’t need a lot of lights or air conditioning or computers.

There’s some irony about proclaiming a glorious new day for the future by pulling money out of the not-too-deep pockets of people actually trying to create a better one.

Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney who maintains a political blog, The War on Wrong. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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