Remember that scene in Star Wars where Obi-Wan has to get Luke and the Droids past the guards and he uses the "Jedi Mind Trick." Obi-Wan explains that some minds are susceptible to simple suggestions.
The Republic has been running a series of articles on the rebirth of Tempe and I came across this article as well and said to myself...ah, the old Jedi Mind Trick. Well Done.
Here's the scenario. APS owns the Ocotillo power plant near ASU. The plant is ancient, inefficient, expensive and dirty. However, metro Phoenix needs some power to be generated in the city itself in order to maintain voltage support. So APS can't just shut the plant down.
So let's say that you are on the Tempe City Council and APS comes to you with these two options.
Option 1: We tear down the existing plant and replace it with a plant that produces the same amount of power and only produces one third of the pollution of the existing plant.
Option 2: We tear down the existing plant and replace it with a plant that produces triple the power of the current plant and produces a little bit less pollution than the existing plant.
New power plants are much cleaner, and as a policy maker, you have the choice of taking advantage of the new technology by getting one third the pollution or three times the power.
If you are a Tempe official, this is an easy decision--you pick the smaller plant. After all, Tempe doesn't benefit by having a larger power plant in the middle of the city, but it does benefit from having the current amount of power with far less pollution.
That's where the Jedi Mind Trick comes in.
APS doesn't present those two choices. Instead, APS just presents Option 2. In other words, the company says "We are planning to tear down the existing plant and replace it with a plant that produces triple the power of the current plant and produces a little less pollution than the existing plant. What do you think?"
The happless Storm Trooper City Councilman says "Golly, that sounds like a great idea."
The Republic's Ryan Randazzo shows how it works in practice. He asked Tempe City Councilman Kolby Granville about the project. Check this out.
Tempe Councilman Kolby Granville, who was recently briefed on the project, said he will reserve final judgment on the new plant until he sees the completed plans. But he sees few drawbacks to the early proposal.
“My understanding is it’s more power with less pollution and smaller stacks that look less ugly. I really don’t see any downside,” he said.
Though Gilbert residents fought SRP’s Santan project, Granville believes the Tempe plant will be embraced because it is expected to be less of an eyesore.
“My hunch is this is going to go as smooth as these things can,” he said. “The thing that they’re removing looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic ‘Mad Max’ movie. And the thing that they are adding looks like a modern power plant.”
That's awesome. The plant comes down under either scenario, but the only thing that Kolby can see is: better looking plant, a tad less pollution and more power. He never even considers: better looking plant, 2/3 less pollution and the SAME power.
This option provides no additional benefit for Tempe, but a huge benefit for APS. After all, the company gets triple the output of a power plant that's in the middle of the city.
If you want to see how effective the mind trick is, check out this next sentence.
Granville does not believe APS will garner any city incentives for the project.
Incentives? Are you kidding me? Wow, Granville has rejected the idea of PAYING APS to build a larger power plant inside the Tempe border. Well, at least he's got that going for him.
The Tempe elections are coming up, but unfortunately Kolby isn't on the ballot. Here's hoping that the new Councilmen will not be so easily swayed by simple tricks.
After all, guys like Kolby Granville are not the Droids we are looking for.