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The Source of Facts

April 3rd, 2007

Much ado has been made regarding the U.S. decision to tinker with the daylight savings time. Regardless of the intentions behind the Congressional experiment (reducing power consumption) I prefer the change. So there’s my bias.

Now, let’s talk about the other bias. Ars Technica is running a little piece which can only be described as gloating about the failure of the switch to actually save power. Not sure why it’s worth gloating about, but okay. Their source is an even shorter article by Reuters, which doesn’t seem very interested in gloating (at least there still some objective journalism in the world) about the apparent failure to conserve. But now you should be wondering, who is the Reuters’ source?

Here’s the direct quote from the article

“There might have been a small increase in morning lighting, and a slightly larger decline in evening lighting usage,” said a spokeswoman at New Jersey utility Public Service Enterprise Group Inc, but that modest decline will have no impact on its overall sales or earnings.

Which means there source is the venerable Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. That’s not a link to their homepage, by the way, that’s a link to their stock price. Yes, that’s correct, PSEG is a privately held, for profit company.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with for profit utilities (although, the argument could be made…) what I’m saying is that no for profit company is going to come out and announce, for no good reason, “the government’s regulation has cut national power consumption and as a result, earnings are down.” It’s just not gonna happen. There is every incentive for them to say, “silly government, you cannot stop us, for we are the power company… everyone needs our electricity!” Check out that link again, check out their stock price for the past few days following the article (April 2nd). Up almost 3 dollars! Interesting, no?

Now, I’m not saying that power company is lying. I don’t have the facts to say that–but I think that a serious news agency like Reuters, and less serious news, um, reporting… er… opinion site like Ars, should look beyond to the source of their facts before they declare something to be a failure.

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