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I’ll Have What They’re Having

OK, I’ll admit it: I have a streak of local jingoism in me. There are times when I’ll crow to anyone who’ll listen that, believe it or not, there’s a lot of cutting-edge sustainable thinking going on in my neck of the woods. But this week took the cake. Georgia Senate Bill 31 (SB 31) has made it out of committee and is being pushed for a Senate vote imminently. It’s a doozy. For starters, the bill ─ which is all about the funding for additional nuclear capacity at Plant Vogtle ─ does a nifty end-run around democracy, calling for a state law that would enable capital projects such as this to sidestep decades-long oversight by the Public Service Commission. In addition, the bill calls for all Georgians to pay for the darn thing now, through $1.6 billion in additional taxes, almost 10 years ahead of when the project is projected to be completed. Can I have some of what Georgia Power is having? As a business person, I would love nothing better than to have my customers pre-pay for my products 10 years ahead of when I have to deliver them. Talk about free use of money. I thought the federal bailout of the banks after the fact of fiduciary irresponsibility was controversial enough. But this is taking corporate lobbyist sleight-of-hand to a new level entirely. And as a business person, if I were running a publicly-regulated company such as Georgia Power, how sweet if I could figure out a way just to go around the whole awkward democracy thing and just get the legislature to green-light funding for my project. And as a business person, if I were running a company with public shareholders, how cool would it be if I could force a whole market to invest in my wares without even giving them the say-so of their own purse strings. Such would be the result of such a bill, by compelling current ratepayers to invest in energy they may never see on a project that is not even expected to break even for at least 16 years. How would you like to be forced into such an investment? Probably not much. But as a business person, that’s an offer I just simply couldn’t refuse. But perhaps the most brilliant bit of all is that this bill distracts attention from where things really matter: public consideration of ways to create better efficiencies with current energy systems and investment in alternative energy solutions. But hey, gotta love that razzle-dazzle. One of my most favorite business book is called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, . by Robert Fulghum. I went back to my dog-eared copy recently to re-check. Hope. Not there. Didn’t think so. Nowhere could I find as part of my kindergarten rules the lesson that “Rules are made to be broken.” Nor could I find the statement, made famous in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All men are created equal. Some are created more equal than others.”


Ray Anderson: Oh Captain, Our Captain

Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface, Inc., author of two books on sustainability and a tireless champion for re-inventing business to service the environment, passed away last Monday at the age of 77. Ray was vice-chairman of my company for eight years, a mentor, a guide, and a dear friend. I write this in […] Read More..

In Praise of Late Bloomers

It’s already spring in my hometown of Savannah, GA. Partiers have already blown in and out of town to celebrate a raucous St. Patrick’s day. The tourists are in full swing, enjoying a three-week music festival and the annual tour of homes. And, of course, there’s the early bursting onto the scene of azaleas, the […] Read More..

A Tale of Two Banks

Several hundred billions of dollars in commercial real estate loans are up for expiration in the coming year, with a multiple of that ($1.7 trillion) coming in the ensuing 12 months.. Reports of vulture capital in the $500 billion + range are reportedly poised to pounce on anticipated flea-market pricing. And the question on the […] Read More..

Leveraging Business For Change: It Ain’t About the “Where”

George S. invited me to have coffee with him the other day. George is a young real estate developer in town (Savannah, GA), passionate about strategies to reduce our carbon footprint. He and his wife and two young daughters have been in town about five years. Foremost in his mind, the reason he wanted to […] Read More..

Doing the Scapegoat Thing – Not So Profitably

During the past nine months, virtually every board I serve on has gone through crazy tumult. A few execs have lost their jobs in the process. You could say that each situation is unique, and that these terminations were called for. Perhaps that’s true. But I think there are systemic forces at work that call […] Read More..