SPRING IS SPRUNG AND SUMMER'S HERE!
It's gonna be hotter than Hades all too soon.
Stay cool is the motto!
California’s Net Neutrality bill which a few other states are similarly considering adopting, as mentioned in my previous post, has passed our State legislature, but ….. the bill’s content has been watered down by an Assemblyman in the predominant political party, allegedly to appease commercial donors who will benefit, as described by Tristan Greene here.
Guess it’s just a coincidence that some of the Assemblyman’s biggest donors are AT&T, Comcast and Charter. Internet users will still be at risk for being subjected to favoritism to the big boys now. As if we didn’t already know, there are individuals in both of our major political parties who fail to represent the best interests of the rank and file citizen. What are their constituents going to do about them come election time?
My phone rings. Appears to be a local area number. Since I’m expecting some calls I chose to answer the phone rather than allow it to go to my answering machine. I soon discern this is a recording with the female alarmist voice warningly announcing words to the effect, “Your use of electricity has been flagged as using more than your neighbors!”
Is this the electric company calling me, I wonder? The recording doesn’t say. I think it’s a sales pitch from some commercial company, but how do they know how much electricity I’m using? What do they mean I’m flagged?
I generally turn off the phone mid-sentence as soon as I recognize it’s a recorded call, but I listened this time. I learned they are selling windows, but I must click on a number to learn more. I disconnect instead.
I wonder, is there a connection, as I’m reminded that the electric company has been sending letters informing customers that they’re using more power than their neighbors? I recall being curious after several months of receiving those letters as to just what was the basis of that conclusion? Which of my neighbors was my usage being compared to? Also, I wondered, is the utility leading up to some justification for a future rate increase, a usage penalty, or to charge such users more?
Given my inquiring mind, I had phoned that utility to ask what was the criteria they used to determine which neighbors to whom I was being compared? They didn’t have a definitive answer for me other than just “my neighbors”. I asked again, who were the neighbors they were comparing me to, or how did they determine which ones to which my usage should be compared? Well, I was told, they can’t reveal such private information about customers.
Plus, the utility representative also noted that besides, they can’t ask customers to provide other personal information about their household. So, it’s not surprising that my further questioning revealed they don’t know how many people are in any of those households which are being compared to one another, much less other specifics, or even what electric power-using devices the households have. Do any one of them have an electric car, for example? Does the utility use location, or house square footage, consider tree-shaded houses versus those openly exposed to the sun? What is the criteria?
My questions to which they had no answer also included:
Which of these neighbors are you comparing my usage to -- You mean the ones who were away for weeks, or the ones who both work and are gone long days during the week? Or maybe you mean the ones who have long 4 day work weeks, then every weekend take trips, not returning until late Sunday night, so aren’t in their house? Gee, what a surprise that my household might use more electricity than any of them and if I have a week-long family visitor my household really exceeds the comparative numbers. And we still have no idea what, how few or how many digital tech devices are used in the comparison homes or mine.
I did learn our California Public Utilities Commission apparently passed some sort of rule that has required the utility to mail customers these notices. Mine come separately from my bill. I haven’t taken the time to query CPUC to see how they explain the value of this comparison that seems hardly to be providing very realistic data.
I was told solar companies sometimes also use this sales technique of accosting homeowners by stating they’re flagged for using more of the energy than their neighbors, but, I was assured by the electric company representative, we don’t reveal to them any information about our customers’ utility usage. So, I said, I guess then that these companies reference to “flagging” they're just making up and it's simply a sales gimmick they're foisting off on everybody as they use a bit of hucksterism.
I expect the purpose of having the electric company send users such usage comparisons is to increase our awareness for conservation purposes, maybe to imply we should want to conform to using less electric if we want to save money, or maybe they think we’ll become competitive with our neighbors, but I find this particular type of comparison meaningless and invalid.
Basically, it’s comparing apples and oranges because no allowance had been made for variables like number of people in the household, hours the house is actually occupied. That’s not to mention the amount of activity occurring in the house, because if someone lives there who is inactive for any one of numerous reasons, including some due to medical reasons, such as poor blood circulation causing the person to feel cold as a relative of mine reported experiencing, they may require more heat or cooling.
This brings another question to my mind. How much is all this costing the electric company to create, print, compile, mail these comparison letters, including man hours expended? Is the expense for this going to be absorbed by the utility users, or will the cost be taken out of administrative salaries or stockholder’s budget? Don’t hold your breath on either of those charges happening. Either way, I expect we utility users will absorb this jolt – a shock to our system – small, I suppose, but it all adds up.
What do you think? Am I missing something here? Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Do you encounter any data reports that just don’t seem to add up or make sense?