Go Green, Pay More Green

Earlier in the year, we received a letter from our City Manager and City Councilmember which included our “first personalized Home Energy Report.”  The report compares our energy usage compared to our neighbors’.

Our “most” efficient neighbors are graphed in green, “all” neighbors are graphed in orange and we’re graphed in, oh my God! black!  Yes, we spend 24% more electricity than our neighbors!  We’re definitely horrible people. The only thing missing was the skull and crossbones insignia on the envelope to let our letter carrier know how despicable we really are.

I find this “big brother” mentality intrusive and truly disgusting.

When this program was initiated, our city government was teetering on bankruptcy so I’m wondering why the City Manager and City Councilmember aren’t focusing more of their attention on the City’s problems rather than peeping through my windows to see if I’m switching off a light?  I run a fiscally-sound home and don’t need the government, on any level, to tell me how to run it.

How dare they audit my energy use and start comparing my usage to others?  As long as I pay my bill each and every month, it’s no one’s business how much electricity I use.  When the government starts giving me money to pay my utilities, then it has the right to question how efficiently I’m using that money.  Until then, I’d appreciate it if everyone would stop looking over my shoulder.

My home is being compared to approximately 100 occupied, nearby homes that are similar in size to mine.  Other than square footage, it doesn’t look as if any other factors were considered.  I’m home all day.  My computer, fax, scanner, printers and answering machine are vital to my work.  Are the neighbors to whom I’m being compared work from home?  Are they commuting to work in Seattle by using public transportation like my husband has for the last 16 years?  Or are they commuting in gas-guzzling vehicles?  Or are they leaving behind empty homes during the week?

This program is funded by Puget Sound Energy and a grant awarded to my Island by the Washington State Department of Commerce “to help provide innovative energy-saving solutions to local communities.”  It’s a three-year community-wide effort designed to help island homeowners and businesses reduce energy use and costs.  Sounds noble and good, right?

In Seattle, the cost of water is going up.  Why, you ask?  Because folks are using less of it.  The utility is facing declining revenue as water usage continues to fall with the poor economy, successive cold summers and successful conservation efforts.

So what happens when we here on the Island achieve these innovative energy-saving solutions?   Well, if we go the same route as Seattle did, the rates will go up because we’re using less energy.

Supply and demand doesn’t seem to apply.  As someone in Seattle wrote, “demand for your product goes up, prices go up. Demand for your product goes down, prices go up.”

My brother and sister-in-law, who live in Los Angeles, are the most environmentally-conscious people I know and they’ve done everything possible to be as “green” as they can be.  They’ve installed water-saving toilets, two very expensive on-demand water heaters, a water-saving clothes washer and they wash all dishes by hand.  They use  environmentally-safe detergents and line dry and only use their gas clothes dryer when absolutely necessary.  And what do they get for their awareness and environmental responsibility?  Higher utility prices!

Seems as if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author’s website:  http://www.idontgetit.us

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Doug

    The state of Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality requires road construction crews to spray water constantly on construction sites to “keep dust particles down”, called PM10. Tens of millions of gallons of water is wasted every day on this program. They now require all company vehicles to pay a $50.00 environmental fee, they give you a number to stick on your vehicle…..any idea how many vehicles that is????? Now, do you remember the big dust storm that made national news several weeks ago? Who does the government fine for all that darn dust here in the desert? Obvious to me that this is another Fed Gov’t money making scheme.

  • Ron

    I have no problem with utilities sending information about saving energy. Sending information about how one customers usage compares to others seems silly. It is harmless except someone has to pay for it. If the utility shares my usage with other customers it is a violation of my privacy. If the utility wants to ration usage, that is another matter. These are inherent problems with giving utilities monopolistic power. We sold our souls a long time ago when we granted monopolistic powers in the interest of achieving economies of scale. There is no competition for the utilities. My guess is that we never achieved the economies of scale and the cost is actually higher than it would be with competition. I can understand why costs per unit of water might increase if water usage declines. There are fixed costs that have to be covered to operate the plant and equipment no matter what the level of usage is.

  • Roger Ward

    Some time ago in your bio, I read that you live in a very liberal area; that given, you should not be surprised that the libs are trying to restrict your freedoms and pick your pocket. The reality is that the lefties approach life the same way that religious zealots do: they know what’s best for you and it’s their religious duty to “save” you … even from yourself. It always starts with “education” and ends with punishment and restrictions. Conservatives are willing to let the lefties have their curly bulbs …. but liberals aren’t willing to give anyone the freedom of choice between incandescent and curly. Fortunately, the Founders gave us a weapon against this mindset: the vote. When you get rid of the lefties in office, these problems will just melt away. “That government governs best which governs least.”

  • chief98110

    This Green thing makes me crazy. Most folks have no time or interest in learning about conservation. Real conservation is hard work and requires a big time commitment. This current green thing is a bumper sticker and not much more.
    For example, most folks don’t know that the government is phasing out incandescent light bulbs in favor of the new CFL lights, thing is they are fill with mercury vapor and need special disposal. Did you know that? I found in my community only one dump site that is accepting the CFL bulbs, this site is 30 miles away. So, where are folks dumping their old burned out mercury filled CFL? Why most go in the garbage, do you see a problem coming!
    I also see a whole new industry coming around the bend after the EPA steps in and declares the new CFL lights an environmental hazard and sues municipal governments and business owners requiring them to clean up the mess.
    Don’t you just love our federal government? Can’t keep the boarders secure but they are right on top of the light bulb wars.

    • Bob

      Chief,

      Your last staement about the light bulb wars is funny but also sad.

  • Bob

    When our local gas and electric company wanted to put in “smart” meters I just knew it wouldn’t be long before they were telling me I was using energy in a way they did not approve and charging me more for using energy at the “wrong” times of the day. That’s why I refused to let them turn off the electricity for the short time it took to install the meter. They badgered me for months sending people to the door telling me I had no choice. I told them we have a business in our home and if my computers go down and I lose sensitive data they will be in big trouble. They finally gave up and I still have my “dumb” electric meter. They did install the “smart” gas meter without my permission. Any yes, I recycle, turn off the lights when I’m not in a room and generally conserve resources. That’s why I resent them trying to tell me how to run my life.

  • CCNV

    Once we’re all living in this socialist utopia, how will anyone be able to afford one of these $40K electric death-traps without a job? Isn’t the ultimate goal of this administration to get gas prices up to $7/gallon in order to get rid of trucks and larger vehicles? Unless the government plans to DONATE one to my family, we’ll be keeping our ‘gas guzzler’ Sportage and Ford truck. The $7/gallon gas won’t be an issue because we won’t have jobs.

    My husband went to an auto tech (mechanic) class a month ago and was told the replacement battery costs are exorbitant. Also, there have been seven (7) UNREPORTED auto technician deaths related to electrocution from these cars. I’d tell you where the government can put these cars, ‘curly’ light bulbs, and global warming BS, but it’s not fit for publication.

  • Brian

    Leona,

    One more thing…..you should write a letter to explain how offended you are, and explain how your “energy footprint” may indeed be actually smaller than your neighbors’. I’d surely raise hell if this garbage came to my house.

    • Will Swoboda

      Hey Brian, keep the current bunch in DC. and it will.

      • Brian

        Don’t I know it! I just filled out part of the American Community Survey, the parts my family feels comfortable and willing to volunteer an answer.

        So I fully expect something along the lines of energy if we can’t change the rolls in Congress.

  • DOOM161

    Supply and demand isn’t a factor in a monopoly.

    • begbie

      Yes it is. The utilities need more “stuff” when they have to generate more. Supplies, fuel, manpower all are factors in power generation. Costs for these needs will fluctuate depending on volume needed to satisfy demand for service, just like anywhere else. These differences are passed to the customers.

  • Brian

    Leona,

    Just curious, have you tried talking to your neighbors and comparing the figures. What if you did and found out it was bogus?

    I wonder if the neighbors’ mailers show black for them and orange for you? This could just be some sort of elaborate scam to get you to buy some curly light bulbs. I would love to know what you find out.

  • Morior Invictus

    The liberals/enviro-pagans don’t get it. Conservation of electricity and oil will not save the Planet. Why? Because the Planet is not in trouble. They don’t understand that using less energy only results in lower revenues, lower taxes and lost jobs. The liberal fools think a coal fired generating station is evil and should be shuttered. Lost jobs…. Lost revenue. The use of electricity and oil is the provate business of the user. Once it has been purchased it is nobodys business. I say keep those generators spinning at top speed. Every revolution equates to people being employed.

  • rider237

    :-) isn’t the PNW loads of fun? have they snooped in your garbage yet?