This is the weirdest weather map you’ve ever seen. Sort of. It shows the solar power capacity of different regions of the U.S. It’s the coolest-looking slide from an interactive map compiled by NPR to illustrate this week’s series about America’s power grid. It shows power sources and where they’re located, and also the larger infrastructure that carries our electricity from those sources to our homes.
Nashville Electric Service (NES) decided it would be a good idea to round up each customer’s bill to the nearest dollar, then take that extra change to donate to charity. It’s a great idea, and since the total amount donated per year can’t exceed $11.88, it’s not a hardship on most people. But there are a few problems. First, NES chooses the charities, if that matters to you. What’s more troublesome is that NES plans to opt-in every customer when the program begins on January 2009 without asking for explicit permission—if you pay your electricity bill through NES, you’ll donate to their charities next year, thank you very much.
Energy is expensive. Electricity bills are expected to jump as much as 29% this summer in some areas of the US. [USAToday]
In New York, residents can choose to buy their energy from competing energy supply companies, or ESCOs. The idea is you can end up saving money by choosing from a field of competitors. In reality, says the New York Times, your energy bills frequently increase, and when you try to switch again you might be charged a contract termination fee.
Save some money by re-using your existing strings of light this Christmas—even if they’re currently acting all wonky. Here are some handy guides on how to repair dark strings of Christmas lights, whether they’re LED or the classic incandescent type. They’re fairly detailed, with a sort of techy “how things work” vibe, but contain a lot of useful information. For example, just because a string of incandescents has an AC outlet at the end, that doesn’t make it an extension cord—the more power you pull through the cord, the greater the current and the higher the risk of shorting out bulbs.
We’ve talked about these before, but we really like the idea of keeping our chargers neat and organized and the boxes people are making seem to be getting more and more advanced. This box also has the benefit of multiple switches so you can easily cut power to whatever device you have plugged in, should that be your desire. Nifty.
“The introduction of our Great Value bulbs make CFLs a more accessible option for our shoppers as we strive to sell 100 million CFLs by the end of 2007,” said Wal-Mart General Merchandise Manager Andy Barron in a statement.
Trent at thesimpledollar.com is on a mission to cut the extra fat from his budget, and he’s found that one step is to reduce the amount of unused power that goes into his home. Everything you leave plugged in continues to draw a small amount of power, and although the cost for these small drains is minimal on a per-item basis, they can add up faster than you think.
When Robert Hancock of Carterville, IL got his monthly power bill, it made him mad. Why? Because it was $526.62—up 200% from the previous month.
Michael Garrett (pictured)- CEO – Georgia Power – 404-506-7733 (Mickey’s boss)
Staffers at the New York State Public Service Commission have signed off on ConEd’s plan to impose the largest rate hike in the company’s history. ConEd asked for $1.2 billion, but PSC staffers think the utility is entitled to only $618 million. New Yorkers already pay some of the highest electricity bills in the nation.
“This is all part of the sham that goes on with every rate hike request,” said Assemblyman Michael N. Gianaris, a Queens Democrat who sits on the Assembly’s power committee and who has criticized the utility for its response to the 2006 power failure in his borough. “Con Edison asks for more than it expects to get,” he said. “The P.S.C. rides in on its white horse and takes credit for slashing the request. But the end result is still what Con Edison wanted all along.”
Son Keeps Retired Mother From Boiling In Atlanta By Beseeching WaMu Executive Customer Service For Overdraft Mercy
“I’m not quite sure how my almost-septuagenarian, fastidious, wheelchair-bound, Social Security Disability-stipend mother did it, but she forgot to list a large utilities check in her register and managed to spend over $400 that she didn’t have. For a total of TWENTY overdraft and NSF charges (at $32 a charge). Between the overdrafts, the unpaid checks (and the bounce fees on the payee side of the equation), she’s managed to tally up more than $1800 in unforeseen debt in the last two weeks. She only gets about $1000 a month, and her last check was deposited before we knew how much trouble she was in, paying this emergency debt down to about $-330 in her checking account and $500 in outstanding bounced checks and fees, and leaving her no money for utilities and no friends or relatives to beg for help from…”
Sure, the Kill-a-Watt power meter is great for helping you measure just how many little lightning bolts your appliances are eating every day (confession: we don’t really know how electricity works), but the new Energy Joule network monitor provides an entirely different level of feedback, so that you can throttle your consumption at times when energy is most expensive.