Thursday, October 7, 2010

Glad My Utilities Are Included; and else

Not long ago, a friend challenged me to decipher her bill from SDGE, the same people railroading the Sunrise Power Link. The way the bill works is that they dictate a base level of usage for the month; an amount so low that using a fan in hot weather jumps you to the next tier.

Once at that level the rate goes up, but not just for the additional usage. The tier one amount then also goes up. The next jump is the same. So, in the end, you pay triple for the minimal usage and all else. It is almost impossible to follow the calculations. All you know is that you pay a bundle for very basic service. You're lucky if it doesn't get into tier three while on vacation, just from the refrigerator and maybe a lamp or two on a timer. Another scam sanctioned by California's utility board--I forgot their exact title and the requisite initials.

Now they are installing "smart meters". What these do is decide that at any moment in time you are using an amount above the arbitrary level, especially at peak times. You are charged the high rate for those moments. It's like paying triple for a gallon of gas because you bought it at the wrong time, even if that one gallon is all you used.

It sounds as if this is to counteract the troubles encountered by a system running at maximum capacity to avoid outages during times when demand exceeds available supply. In the case of SDGE, and San Diego county, they are running a surplus and are not stretched to capacity. The draconian measures have no purpose other than bilking the public while telling them it is for their own good.

Sine the 70's I have been a proponent of removing one's self from dependence upon public utilities whenever possible. It has been quite difficult as, in many cases, it has been illegal to do so. Often when an unincorporated area was annexed by a city, for example, people who already had their own wells were required to hook into the city water system, regardless of need or desire. Their water and sewage were perfectly safe and causing no problem, but that did not matter. In other cases it was forbidden to produce your own electricity.

Solar is still too expensive for most people to afford. In this climate it can power a home. Of course the power company still wants to be tied in and sings the praises of how wonderful it is to see your meter run backwards (although the digital nature of a smart meter probably offers no visible evidence of this). Yippee, you may even get money back. Cash that $4.00 check and how lovely it is. I'd suggest that anyone who can fit their home with systems to produce their own power remove all connection to the utility. There is no way they will relinquish control that will adversely affect you down the road.

Of course this is all cloaked in green wrapping, yet it has little to do with that. Especially considering the environmental nightmare their power link represents, and the disregard for East county communities and property rights, not to mention fire hazards.

I pay the landlord a set amount per month and do my best to ensure minimal usage so their cost is as low as possible. I use a lamp that draws about 23 watts. One of those squiggly bulbs that replaces a 60 watt incandescent. I avoid using the track lights by the kitchen that use about 300 watts. Those are very bright bulbs.

These smart meters and other schemes by SDGE are an assault on the less financially sound people and serve to raise the cost of life around here. Too bad. It is another situation which is foisted on the public who generally go along or think it is all for the greater good. So many such attacks have been launched against normal people that there is no way to list them them all. None of this ought to be possible in a free country of civilized beings.

So, once again, I see the value in my under achievement. Lack of ownership, and lack of wealth have become more a relief than a source of self admonishment. Not that I enjoy self loathing, but it is pretty sick when you realize you dodge bullets through lack of initiative and substance. Excellence is punished while apathy and lack of drive are rewarded. And that is a relative benefit to me.

How crazy is that? I would much rather see it work as it should, where one can be the keeper of the fruits of his labors and where success is not vilified and reason for harassment. The USA has been gutted from within through faulty education, flawed philosophy being drummed into us through media, film, institutions of alleged learning and general use of herd instinct and manufactured peer pressure. Most of this has been accomplished by money taken from private enterprise then distributed by government; often back to private enterprises who play ball, call the shots and manage to filter a little of that back to the officials who robbed us in the first place.

The best joke of all is that those who dare to object are now called radical right wingers and potential threats to national security. The biggest threat to national security is the government itself; agencies like Homeland security and the IRS, among others. Those groups pose far more threat to life and liberty than do people who want a peaceful, honest society in which free trade and individual autonomy are treated as absolute rights rather than privileges granted on the whim and at the pleasure of an autocratic government.

It is not true capitalism that has given rise to such corporate pirates as SDGE/Sempra and others. It is a government who has overstepped its proper functions, which in turn allows it to be of great use and complicity in furthering the aims of some enterprises while hindering others.


  1. Nice dissertation on the power consumptioin in your area. We DO NOT have that kind of billing thank science.

  2. Plenty of "utility" companies pull these kinds of shenanigans. If you have a landline phone, look at the list of items they "fee" you for: After you pay for your "plan," you pay for the wires, the depreciation of equipment (that they also get tax breaks for), free phone service for others, and on and on. A few pennies a month, but it essentially turns your phone-time rate into 100% profit for them.

    Minimizing your "other" Green Footprint (the money extorted from you for services) is a good thing.


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