I didn’t plan to take the summer off from blogging. Every day, I’d think, “I’m going to write the post about rescuing the cat! Or the one about husbandly information hoarding!”
And every day something would happen. Maybe an ant invasion. Maybe non-stop emails about soccer. Maybe another volunteer organization needed something handled. With the country opening up again (sometimes in very stupid ways), I had more visitors this summer than ever.
It was also summer vacation, which meant Baby D was home. I dread summer vacation. Yes, Dalton is more independent now that he’s older, but also more argumentative about chores. About screen time. About EVERYTHING, actually.
To burn off Dalton’s excessive energy in something besides being contrary, we spent a lot of time on the soccer pitch this summer. In Los Angeles, this means games Friday-Monday, from Oceanside to Norco.
On the remaining weekdays, summer is also the season of doctor’s appointments, optometry appointments, vet appointments, and dentist appointments.
When the city took out all our trees, we put in solar panels. This has been Andy’s dream for years. He handled all the research, picked the company, and signed the forms. But dealing with the initial surveys, inspections, installation, stucco repair, and repainting was on me.
Some of you are thinking, “Oh! How exciting! You got solar! How is it?”
I don’t know. We’re two months in and so far it’s just a super expensive art installation.
This is due to bureaucracy, incompetence, and greed. But mostly greed.
First, the city conducts a mandatory inspection. That takes at least two weeks to SCHEDULE, and another week to happen. Takes all of 10 minutes for inspectors and one utility company employee to walk around the house with coffee cups, nod, and head back to Starbucks for a refill.
Then the solar company has to notify (i.e., file paperwork) with Southern California Edison (our electric utility and certified assholes) to interconnect our installation to the power grid. This involves a very difficult, lengthy process on their end involving FLIPPING A SWITCH.
The time it takes to flip the switch can be 2 weeks or 4 weeks. Why so long, you may ask? Do they use a SLOTH?!
It’s not actually a sloth. It’s a manufactured delay because SCE will no longer make money on us. Instead, they will be forced to buy electricity FROM us (although for practically pennies on the dollar, and they’d like to make it even less). Which means a dip in SCE profits. And when utilities aren’t regulated, the greedy fuckers are all about profit—no matter which fires they start and who they kill.
Huh, it’s almost like it’s a bad idea to allow utilities to operate unregulated.
SCE is determined to squeeze as much profit from us as they can. Hence a delay that would put the slowest sloth to shame. Despite the fact that SCE can still make money back at night, when solar panels no longer generate electricity.
Now, if your solar installation includes a battery, which ours does, you can expect SCE delay even longer. I mean, how are they going to make money off us if we store our own power to use at night?! CAPITALIST SACRILEGE!
So even though the battery was inspected along with everything else, and even though it makes no difference in flipping that one switch, SCE takes twice as long to interconnect customers who install a battery…stretching out the delay to collect one final month of profits.
They have other tricks, too. SCE changed the required form for grid interconnection in July. All customers/ solar companies, even those mere days away from interconnectivity, suddenly had to fill out a different form. And, you guessed it, wait ANOTHER month for switch-flipping.
Andy signed the new form at the beginning of August. He followed up with the company a few weeks later, but got no return call, email, or text from our project coordinator. He figured it was just the usual delay by SCE. Andy followed up again, got stuck on hold, disconnected, and then received the runaround from two male flunkies who insisted there was an unsigned form. Andy spent days finding a competent woman who recognized the issue and sent him on to a manager (male). The manager then told Andy that the problem was the fact that they had TWO Andy Wongs as customers “which created confusion.” The solar company had not even filed our signed paperwork with SCE.
“Are you kidding me?” I screeched when Andy relayed this conversation. “They’ve been sitting on our signed paperwork for over three weeks? And their excuse is ‘you have the same Asian name as someone else?!’ There are over 60 million Wongs in the world, over 200,000 of them live in the US, and probably more than half of those are in California. And they can’t cope with TWO Wongs? Literally the reason account numbers exist. Jesus. Some bullshit racism to excuse incompetence.”
“Right?” Andy agreed. “This wouldn’t happen with John Smith!”
Because I never pass up a chance to win an argument, even more than a decade later, I couldn’t resist noting, “Of course, this would never have happened if we’d stuck to my original plan and hyphenated our last names. You would have been the only Ashbough-Wong in the whole world, not just California.”
Andy tried to argue, but I argued back until he caved. (Inevitable, of course, after I spent all summer literally getting into fighting shape with Baby D.)
We still aren’t running on solar power. The biggest heatwave in history is about to hit the Southwest. We can expect insane electric bills and rolling blackouts, instead of free AC.
If only being right were truly cold comfort.