UPDATE: Sometimes, America, sometimes in the heat of our excitement about coming up with a lot of California jokes, we read things wrong. In this case: the diagram below. So, basically the whole post. I’ve corrected it below. Credit to commenter Maylward who was able to both read properly, unlike me, and graciously note my error.

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) runs the state’s electrical grid. They’re responsible for making sure the state has enough electricity to do the things it needs to do: making movies, fermenting wines, playing air hockey at Google, slouching around Golden Gate Park, etc.

But in what mix? How much of the electricity was going to ensure that Tom Cruise had the proper lighting and how much was going to display Albert Pujols’ name on a scoreboard? They did the math to figure it out. And the answer was: not a whole lot went to either of those things probably still a decent amount! (Especially Cruise.)

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In fact, as this chart shows, less than one-fifth of the state’s [water-related!] energy goes to commercial enterprises such as your yoga studios and your food co-ops. Twenty-eight percent is used by the state’s residents, people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Lucas. (It is not clear whether residences in Humboldt County count as commercial or residential users.)

Created by KQED.org’s Andy Warner.

The staggering fact is the one highlighted: more than a fifth of all of the state’s electricity [used on water things!] goes to move water around. One-fifth! One out of every five megawatts the state produces or imports goes to ensure that fancy Hollywood celebrities and the mayor of Berkeley (and everyone else) have running water. [This is all wrong! Though the fancy celebrities still have water.]

The PUC is looking into ways to conserve some of the energy spent on shuttling water up and down the state. Here are some alternative ideas we just came up with:

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  1. Fill the trunk of the state’s various Lexuses and BMWs and have them drive it around, but see if the cars could be solar-powered first, maybe.
  2. Use fault lines as pipes.
  3. Revisit this idea.
  4. The internet?
  5. Ask Arizona to do it.

[These are all still really good ideas.]