Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Public Utilities: An Alternative Auto Fuel?

Because the use of gasoline is, like NG & electricity, in many instances not a luxury or option but a necessity, what about, at least partially, changing the status of gasoline production to that of a public utility?

Ummm…Are you advocating government takeover of the corporations that refine gasoline?

When the Cuban government did this, back in the late '50s–early '60s, and when Venezuela did this a few years ago, the US was not happy about those actions, and was very vocal about the nationalization of corporate entities. Wouldn’t it be rather hypocritical for the US gov’t to do the same thing, energy crisis or not?

And, please consider how many politicians of both parties are richly subsidized (or bought, if you wish) by campaign contributions from these companies. I’m sorry, but in a democratic society that is capitalist in nature, I don’t see this happening.

What about getting back to deregulating the gas and electricity markets too (and doing it correctly this time).

The concept of a public utility works only when customers do not have a choice, such as which electric power company should serve them. We do not wish there to be a monopoly situation. But as long as customers can readily choose between Texaco, Exxon, etc, I prefer the government stay far away.

Tough question that one. The US oil industry is not really a completive market nor is it a monopoly. Those Oligopolies are really tough to generalize about. However I agree with the general thought, the tough part is in the details.

Not every town makes natural gas, electricity, and water public utilities. In many places these items are provided by private companies.

More importantly, gasoline is not a necessity for everyone. A good many people could seek alternatives if they really wanted to. If automotive transportation was a true necessity, we would find ways for the unemployed to get cars. The truth is that the unemployed can often use public transportation and those who can’t use public transportation often caused that situation for themselves by selecting a home that is not serviced by public transportation. The truth is that if you work less than 20 miles from your home, a bicycle could get you to your job on time. You would simply need to allocate more time for your commute. The so-called right to private transportation isn’t guaranteed anywhere. It isn’t a right. It is a privilege.

The problem is…Oil is NOT a free market. The oil companies have done a very nice job in slicing up the country to MAXIMIZE profit. Go to Upstate NY…and you’ll see a very very low presence of Texaco and Golf. While here in NE Golf is very very plentiful. Texaco is pretty prevalent in MA. There really is very very little competition. I’m not big on regulating the oil industry…but I also don’t think they can keep doing what they’re doing now either.

“The truth is that if you work less than 20 miles from your home, a bicycle could get you to your job on time.”

That depends upon where you live. The winter weather in the Northeast and in many other parts of the country make a bicycle commute very uncomfortable (and possibly unhealthy) on “dry” days and essentially impossible in the event of snow and ice. I do agree, in essence, with most of your other points.

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! We don’t need any a la’ Hugo Chavez socialism! What is the philosophy behind the public utility? Should each registered vehicle owner be entitled to x gallons of gas a month (enough for basic needs) at a set price? Should the refiners justify price increases to a PUCO (Public Utility Commission)?
After all, they refine the same quantity of fuel each month, by the same number of employees, at the same facility, at the same wage structure - the main variable seems to change with a keystroke - the price of crude. The profit margin % may be the same but the net profit is definitely not the same!

There is a huge difference between nationalizing a industry and a public utility.

Actually, they don’t necessarily refine the same quantity of fuel each month. Every refinery needs to be shut down periodically for maintenance. Then, there are unforeseen accidents and other situations that necessitate shut-downs, be they brief or extended. In fact, shut-downs of refineries have frequently been the cause of price spikes in gas prices.

What utter drivel.

So in your mind, people have only themselves to blame if they live more than 20 cycleable miles from their workplace ?

FYI, here’s a few ‘like minded’ friends for you :

I assume that Scudder is referring to Ron-man’s post as drivel, and that he is not criticizing my post. And, yes, one of Ron-man’s other points that I take issue with is the idea that people are to blame for living in an area not served by public transportation. Those of us who selected our homes 15 or more years ago did so for a variety of factors, and reasonably priced gasoline was certainly a factor at that time.

You know the old saying–“Hindsight is 20-20”. While most of us assumed that there would be higher gas prices in our future, nobody in his wildest imagination could have envisioned $4.00/gallon gasoline 15 or more years ago–at least nobody with whom I am familiar.

Your assumption is correct VDC, my post was directed at Ron-man. Apologies but I tend to spontaneously combust when confronted with that type of ill considered nonsense.

You’re cooking the wrong goose. Refiners aren’t making great goo-gobs of money; it’s the well operators that are making it. In any case, the USA imports at least 40% of the gasoline. How can you regulate off-shore production? You could forbid off shore producers from operating here, but that would bring $20/gallon gas far sooner than anyone could imagine. I don’t think the time is near for this idea.

The truth is that if you work less than 20 miles from your home, a bicycle could get you to your job on time.

Spoken from someone who lives below the Mason-Dixon line. I take it you’ve NEVER been North of Georgia??? I’d LOVE to see you travel those 20 miles here in NE from November thru March.

You’re cooking the wrong goose. Refiners aren’t making great goo-gobs of money; it’s the well operators that are making it.

Try again. Refineries is exactly where the money is. Since Exxon/Mobil imports MOST of their oil…how can their profits be skyrocketing if most of the money is made at the wells??

The real point is that we need less, not more, government involvement in the energy business. The government would be under too much political pressure to drive down energy prices, which is exactly the opposite of what needs to happen at the moment. The current small increase in fuel prices is a good start, let’s not interfere with the market when it’s moving in the right direction.

Haven’t you noticed… There really aren’t public utilities anymore after deregulation in many states. Sure there is a company that distributes and bills the power, but generation has been spun off into basically unregulated companies. Electric power is going the way of gasoline.

Craig is right; oil prices are globally determined outside the US gas stations and the White House. The margins between buying the crude oil and refining and selling it are much less than in many other industries, such as clothing, software, etc.

On a previous post we showed gas prices around the world; there were a number of countries with artifically low gas prices, all SUBSIDIZED to keep the people happy and the governments in power.

The Romans gave the plebians “Panum et Circensus” (Bread and Games) to keep them from rioting. Americans need to weaned off cheap gas and face the real cost of importing petroleum and operating large, thirsty cars.

A gasoline utility would be as efficient as PEMEX the Mexican monopoly. Although the stations are clean and the tacos tasty, the whole organization is pitifully inefficient. With US labor rates, PEMEX gas would be unaffordable!