As the slumbering economy forces more people to think of ways to save money, the basic costs of living continue to increase. Case in point: Con Edison is set to jack up rates for electricity to millions of customers in the New York City metro area.
Reader Jim just got a water bill that says his usage has jumped up to
19,000 23,000 gallons per month from his usual 4,000. This is a guy who lives in a one-bath, one-toilet, one-sink house. “Must be that swimming pool I filled in the middle of winter in Western PA,” he says. So far, the utility has dismissed all his requests for explanation, or logic, and demanded he pay up immediately.
Manholes have been exploding more than usual in NYC lately. For those of you who have never lived in NYC, the street randomly explodes at pretty frequent intervals. Sometimes it’s a steam pipe, sometimes it’s electrical. Right now firefighters are putting out a Radio Shack that was a little too close to an exploding manhole/transformer situation. We have video of that, plus three other recent explosions.
In Michigan, utilities can increase rates without first getting approval, but that means the Michigan Public Service Commission can later reduce them. That’s what happened on Monday, when the Commission ordered Consumers Energy to refund about $39.6 million to customers it overcharged since last May.
The Ohio Public Utilities Commission has announced that they are asking FirstEnergy, the utlility company that was going to force its customers to pay $10.80 per light bulb as part of an energy-saving program, to delay the implementation of said program until they can figure out what the %#$& was going on.
Hey, who doesn’t like to get free stuff from the power company? So it’s awfully nice of Ohio utility FirstEnergy to deliver compact fluorescent bulbs to their customers’ homes. Except for the part where the bulbs aren’t free, and customers are being forced to pay nearly five times the retail price of the bulbs.
Having trouble paying your high power bill? The law of supply and demand may be your friend. Americans’ electricity use is decreasing for the first time since 1949. (Maybe it’s all those compact fluorescent bulbs.) This means that your electric bill could be slightly lower in the coming months…or at least not increase as much as usual.
Duke Energy plans on bringing the smartest thing to Indiana since Keith. It’s a “smart” power grid that lets customers keep daily tabs on energy usage and tips Duke off when power outages occur. The grid upgrade will cost the company — and in turn, possibly customers, although Duke is applying for federal stimulus funds that would fund the project — $445 million and more than five years to roll out. Hey, nobody said the future would be cheap or come quickly.
Cool Tools has an interesting suggestion for home owners who want to incorporate solar technology, but can’t afford the steep investment costs: let the solar panel company finance it for you. The trade-off is you won’t save as much money as you would if you paid for them outright, but you will save some money, and the company that’s paying for the panels has a financial incentive to keep them working properly over the course of the agreement.
ConEd has just what you need in the middle of recession: a rate hike! Monthly bills are set to rise between $6-$8 as the energy monster tries to recoup a half a billion dollars to cover the cost of higher property taxes and the usual infrastructure maintenance that utilities never budget for in advance. The perennial optimists at the New York Post still somehow think you’ll still end up with a lower bill…
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.
Lock your doors, Queens residents! IDT zombies are on the prowl in your borough, and if they catch you they’ll try to eat your ConEd account and replace it with their more expensive offer. Jeff says there’s one outside his building right now, trying to buzz its way in.
Guess what happens when you don’t look closely at your bill? Your energy company debits $1.28 million dollars from your bank account — leaving you a million dollars overdrawn.