Posts Tagged ‘austin energy’

Passed by no more, and now automated

Are we the last for miles around to have our meter changed out? We kept seeing trucks in the neighborhood and the guys would say that they were changing out old mechanical electric meters for ones that may be read remotely. We’d ask about us and the only answer would be that our house wasn’t on the list.

Today we came by to check on the mail and found a vehicle in front of the house: a person was aloft on a pole and another was trying to puzzle out the intricacies of opening the housing for the meter. They were there to change out the meter: and they did!

This notice arrived months ago but we were never “on the list” and we were beginning to believe that we never would be. Today we received one of these “mission completed” door-hangers.

The process seemed to be fast, but the technicians said that, because of the old (they were too polite to say “ancient”) meter and the need to change out some wiring, the installation took longer than most. We must have been visited by the senior experts. We were warned that “everything” in the house would have to be reset, but I don’t believe we have a single item that requires it. Luddites in residence.

No additional coins for the meter in 2009!

Missed in the run-up to the holidays 1: Austin City Connection RSS feed included an item noting that Austin Energy is able to hold prices for at least the start of 2009. I checked and they increased prices in 2008 just over half-a-cent per kilowatt hour for the energy part of the bill. This was the first rise for the energy since 1994.

The news item said it was as a result of being able to lock in better prices for future purchases. The cynic in me says it’s because they already put the price up, and over the last 3-months gas prices have slumped back to pre-2008 prices. Of course we all know that the futures market is gamblers paradise for the big boys, and so hopefully Austin Energy are on a safe bet. Of course if gas and natural-gas prices see the same price rises they did for the first 9-months of 2008, in 2009, I wouldn’t bet against a price rise for 2010. Unless you know better?

Is that so?

The enclosure with the latest utility bill from the entity now calling itself Austin Energy leads with the question “why is my electric bill so high?” and goes on to furnish the reply “record hot weather.” The little article reports that some customers have been asking whether the increased fuel charge is the reason for high utility bills. The response: “But the fuel charge only represents about one-third of the average residential customer bill.”

The average residential electric usage in June is reported to have been 1,233 killowatt-hours. At our establishment, we used 453 kWh in June and we used 483 in July, with “energy charges” of $16.05 and $17.15 respectively. In both months, the fuel charge exceeded the energy charge, being $16.51 in June and $17.64 in July. The regressive flat-rate “customer charge” for electric service of $6 represented over 14% of our June bill and over 15% of our July electricity bill (more, were the sales tax to be excluded). The $6 goes on the bill before a single light is turned on. We use electricity chiefly to power lights, fans, a computer, a radio, a washing machine, and a refrigerator that’s not new. In the winter, the oven takes a lot of power because, when it’s cooler, we use it a lot for baking and for the occasional roast.

I think it’s funny that the little monthly newsletter enclosure, which used to be called EnergyPlus, is now being called PowerPlus and bears a trademark sign. Where’s the money going that we don’t spend on utilities? In the summertime, especially, we do a lot more dining out (often recounted here) and also movie-going.

Recycle, reduce – Rethink!

So, down at the coal face it seems there is an ever increasing drum beat to do more, turn off lights, switch to energy efficient bulbs, recycle more etc. I’ve always done my part, the cardboard boxes are piled high in my garage waiting for that w/e when I have time to flat pack them and tie them up for the City to take.

However, everday, between 4.30-7 am an industrial garbage removal truck comes to the local bakers, tips up their huge industrial size bin and out flows more garbage per day than I generate per year(probably). If I watch during the day, they throw in a stream of cardboard boxes, along with all the regular trash. I dunno, just sayin…

Last night as I flew back into Austin on the late flight from Chicago(Yeah I know, the very act of flying isn’t so great), it was with sheer amazement that I watched as the City burned so bright. It wasn’t so much the downtown area, but the huge lots either side of I35, the parking spaces way out of town, not a single car in sight, the car dealershsips, some strange homage to the $1 Gallon of gas, now laden with steel monsters from what is possibly a bygone era. Never mind, even at 10,000ft you can still pick-out the individual shapes thanks to the fantastic floodlighting.

Wait a minute, Austin Energy is asking me, all of us, to let them fit a control to our AC system so they can cycle off on AC during the middle of the day at peak times, fair enough maybe. But, is all that energy used to illuminate nothing, empty parking lots, trucks that won’t sell, really free? Somehow I think not. Isn’t it about time to start tackling local waste before proposing more offshore drilling?

Start by requiring businesses that are closed during the hours of darkness and for whom there is no use of their parking lot to shut off their lights and then how about a commercial recycling scheme? Oh yeah, I’m prepared to do my bit, no more closed bottles with just water in at sports and music events. Lets ditch the plastic…

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