Corporate environmentalists killing cause

Ben Nelms's picture

Oil over $140 a barrel, with OPEC announcing that it could go to $200 within a couple of years (did they mean months?).

Gas prices over $4 a gallon today with no prospect of getting appreciably cheaper (and don’t fall for the ruse if it falls to $3.50; it’ll just go up again).

Food prices past the point of affordability for the average American trying to feed their family.

And a pathetic Congress that cares more about trash-talking the other party than working for their constituents to devise an energy policy to address short-term and long-term solutions.

Welcome to the summer of 2008.

But there’s more. Iran and Israel are edging closer to conflict, with Iran continuing its work on nuclear capability and still calling for Israel’s destruction, and with Israel, incapable of being isolationist since it is geographically surrounded (250:1 in land mass) by its close neighbors and vastly outnumbered (30:1 in population) and likely not willing to sit back and take a first strike.

What do you really think the price of a barrel of oil will sell for if/when that war breaks out? $300 or $400 overnight? More?

And what about locally, aside from gas and food prices? Everything’s going up in price, based presumably on factors linked to oil.

And over at my house, I opened my Georgia Power bill a week ago to find that I owed nearly $380, an all-time high for me by more than $100 bucks.

After I partially recovered from the shock, I decided it was time to look at a breakdown of the costs. The bill did not show the true breakdown. But what I found is what you need to know about your own bill.

I went to Georgia Power’s website to tabulate the cost, since the number of kilowatt hours of energy use is only indicated as a total on the bill.

Everything added up after I accounted for the various charges per kilowatt hour at the summer rate. Everything except a mysterious $114, a figure that equaled 52 percent of my energy use and 30.2 percent of my total bill, after the franchise fee, local taxes and environmental compliance costs.

After speaking with a company rep, I found that the $114 is covered under “Fuel Cost Recovery,” something for which Georgia Power on its website does not offer a cost for in kilowatts of use.

By the way, the cost is 3.8239 cents per kilowatt hour. And it’s not itemized on your bill.

I asked for a breakdown for the past 20 years on how much consumers had paid and exactly what this charge went for. I received a cents-per-kilowatt-hour history beginning in 1992. The rates, including one that went into effect June 1, are approved by Georgia Public Service Commission.

The rates for Secondary Distribution Customers (that’s us in residential) began at 1.3471 cents in 1992 and never got higher than 1.9527 until, in June 2005, it jumped to 2.4190.

In July 2006, it rose to 2.9767 and in March 2007, it rose to 3.4747, and then June 1, it went to 3.8239.

This cost is buried invisibly in the “energy use” line item on your bill. For me, as I said, it amounts to 52 percent of my “energy use” and 30.2 percent of my total bill.

So what is this Fuel Cost Recovery? Among other things, it is the “fossil, nuclear, bio-mass (including renewable) fuel and emission allowances consumed in the company’s own plants, and the company’s share of fossil, nuclear and bio-mass fuel and emission allowances consumed in jointly-owned or leased plants,” the “net energy cost of energy purchases when such energy is purchased on an economic dispatch basis.”

“Included therein may be such costs as the charges for energy purchases and the charges resulting from scheduled outages,” and “carrying costs on over or under-recovered fuel balances calculated at the company’s short-term debt and excluding the first $15 million or any under-recovered cost,” etc., according to information supplied by Georgia Power.

Gee, that makes me feel so much better about having 30 percent of my entire bill go to help my publicly traded, for-profit electric company’s parent corporation, Southern Company (NYSE-SO), recover its energy costs. Thing is, nobody is helping us recover ours.

To put this in another perspective, U.S. Census Bureau says that Georgia’s median family income in 2006 was $56,112. That’s before taxes.

How much does the Georgia General Assembly and Congress think Americans can take when we are hit from all sides by increasing energy costs?

If the corporate environmental lobby doesn’t want to lose a host of converts (and political supporters), they need to understand that the plight of endangered species will drop completely off the radar screen of large numbers of economically-endangered Americans if we have to keep paying the crushing price of energy and food just to keep our families going.

And the same goes for the National Democratic Party if they keep pushing the idea of increasing the tax rate that is already symptomatic of Fabian socialism.

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Submitted by faux_paws on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 3:00pm.

well, technically, you won't get charged for "energy recovery costs" if you stay below the cap for kilowatt hours. this means that one would have to unplug things when not in use etc...but that being said, energy costs are outrageous, which is why it's important to not be wasteful and to conserve (hint hint, mr. nelms)

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Submitted by Ben Nelms on Fri, 07/18/2008 - 9:03am.

Unfortunately, you missed the point I was attempting to make about "Fuel Cost Recovery." The only way one can avoid not paying this charge is to use no kilowatt hours at all, thus being charged only the $7.50 base rate. Anything over zero, including the first 350KwH or the second tier charge, the next 650 KwH, etc. has the Fuel Cost Recovery built in to the energy use item on your bill.
The exponentially larger issue in all this involves far more than conservation, as needful today as conservation is (my thermostat was set at 77, now it's set at 80). It has to do with what the column suggests. The average American (and that's the majority of families in this country) is being hit from all sides with increasing energy costs of all kinds. Yet the only entity that can make a difference nationwide, Congress, refuses to do anything but live up to the sterility for which they are famous.

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