City Journal Autumn 2014

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Autumn 2014
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Nicole Gelinas
Too Soon for Answers in Harlem « Back to Story

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@Mike Mit 71, All of Lake's comments are condescending as well as wrong. Seems to be her specialty.
TO: Lake Worth
ref:"Did you intend to miss pointing that out?" (regarding 3 year freeze on rates)

Whether the rates are frozen before they are anticipated to fall (which could, as you point out, free up money for infrastructure replacement), or alternatively, before they are anticipated to rise, which would RESTRICT future maintenance funds, is the unknown here. The more legitimate action would be to require certain maintenance levels during the rate hearings, but that doesn't lend itself to politically-beneficial sound bites, or voter comprehension, especially low-information voters, who LOVE to hear "rate freeze", with no comprehension of the ramifications.
BTW: MTBF 1)generally refers to a system, not helpful when trying to predict a sectional failure; 2)when predicting the lifetime of a specific item (e.g., a 100 ft section of pipe)it would require knowledge, probably not available on century-old pipes, of the specific chemistry of the pipe, the chemistry and physical properties of the immediate environment (including moisture, and any cycling of the moisture), and several other parameters of the immediate environment.
So your condescending MBTF criticism of Nicole's article is a red herring.
Nicole, dearest:

Acquaint yourself with the fundamentals of engineering quality control.

Mean Time Before Failure is a good start. Easy to understand.

But for life-and-death assets, you have to do expected lifetime. What is the expected lifetime of these gas pipes? That is the core of analysis for the gas pipes.

As to "private" vs. "public" ownership of these assets, you miss that utility assets are owned in cohorts and through fully regulated acquisition structures. Nothing happens in the way of capital investment except by negotiation with the state regulators.

In effect, investments are determined more by regulators than by Con Ed on-staff engineers and accountants.

This: "If Con Ed needs more money to replace or maintain its aging pipes, it is consumers — not taxpayers — who ultimately will pay for those upgrades." Yes and no. The burden will not be spread out in a straight proportion to the gas use. Lowest-use customers will pay less per unit billed.

Otherwise, the at-source cost for gas has fallen recently. That saving should go to replacing end-of-life service lines. Gov. Cuomo has his own idea -- freezing the price instead of lowering the price, which is the essential step toward freeing up revenue to pay for renovation.

Did you intend to miss pointing that out?
James A. Glasscock March 14, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Infrastructure ages over time and breaks down. If there were a gas leak, I am sure
some tenants would have known the smell was
caused by natural gas. Perhaps it was reported. But to whom?
Thomas Jefferson observed that the large cities of Europe were a festering problem.
And we are surprised when a large bureaucracy and city government cannot respond in a timely manner?


In prudent management of government budgets, I would presume that there is set aside a reserve not for calamities, but for long term upgrade of aging utility support. But then, even if there were a reserve; judging by governments mishandling of any funds that we the public will be allowed to be aware of, the fund would be raided anyway for government personnel pay raises as the article pointed out in closing. Voicing my cynicism as well.
And rent regulation certainly had nothing to do with the aging housing stock that contributes to such perilous situations.