Big Biz Nanny is concerned about my electric bill

Posted On: Monday - September 19th 2022 9:49AM MST
In Topics: 
  Economics  Liberty/Libertarianism  Big-Biz Stupidity

Here's the gist of what came in the mail from the power company, in a completely separate letter from the bill, mind you:

Yeah, it was a hot month, maybe a little hotter than the one last year, and we splurged with the A/C, meaning keeping it in the high 70's instead of 81 or so. The unit is pretty dang old. It may need a recharge of refrigerant, and about 1/3 of the fins are crushed in.* I! GET! THAT! I! LIVE! HERE! YOU! DON'T!

I do not need this nanny state Big Biz power company chiding me about my bill. First of all, as "green" as they may act, they'd LUV LUV LUV for people to use more power. The infrastructure for delivery of it is in place - they just got done with some expensive and hairy - if you ask me - work of replacing some old poles in the back yards. If you do all that, you want to use them. If they really need to put more NG units on line, that'd be great business for a monopoly, as they are.

The thing is, I KNOW I paid more - I write out the checks! I look at the numbers on the bills. Yes, that's old hat now, writing checks**. Now, do people who do autopay see the numbers? I assume they get a statement of their power use, if not on paper, then in an email.

It's basic economics. If I pay the bills, I WILL be concerned about power use, hence my cost, going up. That doesn't apply, however, to those getting free rides due to the usual reasons. Sending them this extra letter in the mail won't help them either, because THEY DON'T CARE. (There's another post coming about being a landlord).

I don't know if there are many Americans anymore that understand the whole idea of the free market and the invisible hand and prices as information. Does this company understand that, or are they just virtue signaling, with the cost of these additional mailings being absorbed into the ever rising electricity rates?

I don't need a nanny. Let me handle my electricity use, mmmkayyy?

* There's more to this. I used to comb the condenser fins outside, and I've cleaned out the evaporator inside - it's a split system - though it was pretty clean anyway. (They used to make some great stuff - it's a York unit.) However, we have other plans. Perhaps charging the system would be a good idea, but the unit and more may not be long for this world for other reasons.

** Somewhere on this blog I've mentioned something else about this. It's about a buck for a check and a stamp. Time is involved. I used to pay 4 - 6 months ahead for this reason, but stopped during the Kung Flu PanicFest when there was talk of "forgiveness" of bills coming. The hell if I was going to get screwed on that deal, so I let myself get behind. (It didn't pan out, thankfully.) I may go back to the pay-ahead deal on 2 of the Big Biz bills - they seem pretty reliable in not screwing me as of late.

[UPDATED 09/23:]
The unit in the house is a York. I had written Ruud, which is the brand of water heater in said house - that thing has also lasted a long long time.]

Al Corrupt
Thursday - September 22nd 2022 5:06PM MST


In a word, yes. If you have solar with no batteries, if the power goes off, your solar is cut off. I’m investigating whether cutting the main breaker and hooking up the inverter on the truck to the panel will allow the solar to continue to flow (in case of extreme situations, like an earthquake for instance).
Wednesday - September 21st 2022 8:04PM MST
PS: I liked the aviation meme, Alarmist. Thanks. Now I have Gerry Rafferty music in my head, but that's not a bad thing.

Mr. Corrupt, I didn't know about the suckers in Colorado and the Krazies in California letting the State control their immediate environment. I have been to hotels in which you think you are changing the temperature, but it never happens. To me, that is stupidity more than evil (cheap China-made thermostats). I had to pull the 240V plug on one recently.

Do you mean that the houses with solar can PHYSICALLY have their power cut off and not those with batteries or do you mean LEGALLY on this? It sounds like you mean the former.
Al Corrupt
Wednesday - September 21st 2022 5:03PM MST

No mention of the suckers in Colorado who voluntarily gave control of their thermostats to the power company? At least those morons volunteered… KKKalifornia is now talking about putting water flow restrictors in on a non-voluntary basis.

On another note, I’d like to know why people with solar can have their service turned off while those with batteries don’t. Does an ABT (automatic bus transfer) somehow work differently depending on whether you have a battery attached?
The Alarmist
Wednesday - September 21st 2022 4:07PM MST

Your daily dose of pilot zen:

I found myself wandering down Baker Street today, but I stepped over a couple streets to Gloucester Place, where I came across the residence of Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold, American Patriot (not my photo). Quite a colourful character, seemingly hated on both sides of the Atlantic.

I wonder what the Universe is telling me.
Tuesday - September 20th 2022 12:28AM MST
PS: Finally, I didn't address your points very quickly, Mr. Hail - sorry about that. Yes, electricity is not a big part of people's budgets, but it's not insignificant either. Though ever-rising, the kW-hr charges have matched reasonably with BLS average CPI change - though I need to get a good CPI change number for those years. The other 3 things - base rates for both electricity and water, and the water charges are much higher.

One could attribute the latter to facility-building, but there's been no new water treatment plant I know about, and still, it's a long-term number.
Tuesday - September 20th 2022 12:10AM MST
PS: Finally, the base fee matters a lot too. I can go and get horrified by that piece of mail and do things to cut down energy use. Even if away on vacation for a whole month, we'd get bigger base bills than in the 1990s by 3 to 6 times - for the latter, I note that in the mid-1990s the base rate for water and sewer was $8, while two years ago it went up to about $48, and I can see it going on up again soon. (We can't put a well in where we live right now - there will be options in a different place.)
Tuesday - September 20th 2022 12:05AM MST
PS: Yeah, I don't any US Gov't organization CAN or WOULD EVEN calculate the economic ruin that comes from demographic change - "location, location, location", the realtors say.

I see what you're doing to back-calculate inflation, but these bills don't let us make an apples-to-apples comparison. Most newer houses have better energy efficiency - insulation and windows - probably more efficient units too. My calculation was on the price per kilowatt-hr or per 100 cu-ft in the case of the water bills. (It was for the same location.)

Yeah, the 2.6% is not far off of what the BLS has told us - the page below uses BLS data, as they note below the table.

I don't believe the extremely low numbers cited in most of the years '08 through '17. I do understand that the BLS accounting types have a difficult job calculating that "basket of goods" - see the interesting stuff here:

I'm sure they have been under pressure to keep those reported rates down to hold down the auto-increases in SS, etc.

Here's the main thing, Mr. Hail, and I won't do the calculation right now (one could also just pull up a CPI recent history graph - lots easier) on the numbers from that first link. For MOST (not all, like the electricity per kW-hr) products and services, I've gotten numbers in the 4-5% range long-term, often more like a 25 year range now.

I know you know better on this, but many people wouldn't think about it: 2.5% vs 4.5% seems like "tomato.. tomahto", but when you calculate the compounding, there's a BIG difference - I'm doing this backwards, of course.
Monday - September 19th 2022 11:46PM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, for my inflation calculations, mid-1990s to recent, I get this from my post (the one I linked to) - I include compounding:


Annual percentage inflation rates for these utilities:


Base Fee - 6.9%
Price per ft^3 - 4.2%


Base Fee - 4.5%
Price per kW-hr - 2.6%

Monday - September 19th 2022 9:46PM MST

"I don't know if there are many Americans anymore that understand the whole idea of the free market and the invisible hand and prices as information. Does this company understand that, or are they just virtue signaling, with the cost of these additional mailings being absorbed into the ever rising electricity rates?"

In 2018, you calculated the per-Kilowatt-hour rise rate had been 2.6% over the previous circa twenty years, which is about what the official inflation rate was during the period, if I'm not wrong.

If the BLS is trustworthy (recognizing that the Peak Stupidity position on that is "No"), the median rate went down in 2018 and held at that lower rate the past few years. That was after holding steady (inflation-adjusted) over the previous twenty years.


On the larger point, of course there is an ideological thing going on with energy, but unlike the Flu-Virus Panic of 2020 it was built rather more firmly on decades of build-up. Any precedents for a nuclear-war-like Panic over a flu virus was much more subtle.

Some observant persons have even said the a version of leftist-Green-politics itself was one of the direct ideological forerunners of the Panic... The excellent blogger and statistician William Briggs says this often, but I fear it's all to easy to dismiss such things as just some malcontent picking a pet issue to argue over. It can be tough or lonely to be too right too soon.
Monday - September 19th 2022 9:22PM MST

According to BLS, U.S. electricity prices, adjusted for inflation and multiplied by typical household use in a year, have been these in these past few decades

Median family electricity bill / year (2021 dollars)

- early-mid 1980s: $1800
- the late 1980s: $1600
- 2000s and 2010s: $1500
- In 2018 dropped to $1400, and has stayed there thru 2021 at least.

As yearly bills go, these are not high. Household income stands at $70,000. Depending on state and circumstances, median "take home pay" will be somewhere in the $50,000-$60,000 net after taxes for the median household, which the appropriate denominator here. So that's a median of $1400/$55000 (2.5% of take-home pay spent on electric bills).

Energy efficiency is not a "non-issue," but over the years I have come around to why some people get so bothered by it. Considerably greater damage has been and is being done to the commons than arguably-higher-than-necessary electricity use. But those other things are rarely discussed, never subject to no organized campaigns to rectify or confront it. (What is the net social cost imposed on a metropolitan area by tilting it from 0% Central American Mestizo-Amerind, to 10%? 20%? 30%?)
Monday - September 19th 2022 1:00PM MST
PS You might not be interested in Nanny Big Biz, but Nanny Big Biz is interested in you.
Monday - September 19th 2022 12:35PM MST
PS: Alarmist, those temps at our house probably sound awful to some, but I and my family kind of like getting used to it from Spring into Summer. One thing with keeping it at 68 or 70 is that outside feels miserable in comparison. People will quickly get out to their cars (or in the garage with no exposure) then over to an office or store, and back. I don't think that's living quite ... normally.

Stock up on blankets and sweaters. Remember what Jimmy Carter advised, Alarmist! Oh, and Obama about that tire pressure. He must be a car guy, huh? What a real man!

Adam, it's complicated due to our plans, but I do have a friend who can help me with anything of this sort. I think I'll see if he's got free time for this.

Not only is this thing almost 4 decades old, but my water heater comes close. I've drained it and put in a new anode rod twice. Wait a minute, maybe that's a Ruud and the A/C-heating pack is another good old American brand. I'll update this post tomorrow on that.
Adam Smith
Monday - September 19th 2022 11:18AM MST
PS: Happy Monday!

We still get our electric bill on paper. We travel about two miles to pay in cash or Mrs. Smith will send a check.

You may (depending on condition, parts availability, etc.) want to service your old unit, if it's still in reasonably good shape.

I hear many new units are shit.

The Alarmist
Monday - September 19th 2022 10:43AM MST

My wife told me we should save energy to save money. I told her “Screw that! Our money is growing increasingly worthless every day,” so I cranked up the A/C during the dog days, and I’m going to burn as much gas and electric as I can before they get shut off to teach Russia a lesson in how how Europeans can deal with the cold.
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