Using Energy and Happy about It

clip_image002Guest Post by Steve Goreham

Originally published in The Washington Times.

Last week I received a “Home Energy Report” flyer from Commonwealth Edison, my electricity provider in northern Illinois. The leaflet compared my energy usage to neighbors over the last two months and declared, “You used 41% MORE electricity than your efficient neighbors.” Should I be concerned about this?

My wife and I use energy, but don’t waste it. For years I’ve driven my family batty, turning off lights in vacated rooms. During the summer, my wife dries laundry in the sunshine, rather than in the dryer. We also have many of the compact fluorescent bulbs. We take these measures to lower our energy bills, not for other motives.

Isn’t it odd that ComEd, a company in the energy business, is encouraging their customers not to use it? Imagine a mailer from Coca-Cola pointing out that you drank 41% MORE soft drinks than your neighbor. Or a letter sent from Apple telling you that you needed to reduce your iPhone and iPad purchases.

A visit to the ComEd website provides some answers. First, the company is required to use part of customer payments to urge Illinois customers to reduce electricity consumption by the Illinois Public Act 95-0481. But second, the website is filled with ideological nonsense. In the Saving Energy section of the website, we find a yellow “Power Bandit” and the statement, “Saving Energy was never so much fun! Beat the Power Bandit and learn lots of ways to save energy, save money and help save the planet!” Does ComEd really believe that we can save the planet by changing light bulbs?

For decades, environmental groups have waged war on energy. They warn that increased energy usage will pollute the Earth, destroy the climate, and rapidly exhaust natural resources. They demand substitution of dilute, intermittent, and expensive wind, solar, and biofuel energy for traditional hydrocarbon or nuclear power, which is an excellent way to reduce energy usage. They tell us that nations which use the most energy do the most environmental damage.

National and state governments have swallowed the “energy usage is bad” ideology hook, line, and sinker. Twenty-nine states have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards laws, requiring utilities to use an increasing percentage of renewable energy or be fined. Hundreds of federal and state policies subsidize and mandate renewable or reduced energy usage, including light bulb bans, vehicle mileage mandates, wind and solar subsidies, ethanol fuel mandates, and energy efficiency programs. These policies collect additional taxes from citizens and boost the cost of electricity.

But, actual trends and empirical data show that our planet is not in imminent danger. Air and water pollution in the United States is at a fifty-year low. According to Environmental Protection Agency data, airborne levels of six major pollutants declined 57 percent from 1980 to 2009 even though energy usage was up 21 percent and vehicle miles traveled were up 93 percent. International data shows that pollution is lowest in high-income nations that use high levels of energy, such as Canada and Sweden, but highest in developing nations, such as India and Indonesia. The best way reduce pollution in developing nations is to increase per capita incomes, not to restrict energy usage.

Similarly, there is no empirical evidence to show that mankind is destroying Earth’s climate. Mankind’s comparatively tiny emissions of carbon dioxide, a trace gas in our atmosphere, cause only an insignificant part of the greenhouse effect. Global surface temperatures have been flat for more than ten years despite rising atmospheric CO2. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies report warmer temperatures 1,000 years ago than temperatures of today. A review of history shows that today’s storms, droughts, and floods are neither more frequent nor more severe than past events.

Nor are we rapidly exhausting Earth’s energy resources. We’re at the dawn of a hydrocarbon revolution, triggered by the new techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Mankind now has access to centuries of petroleum and natural gas from shale fields, which can be accessed with cost-effective and environmentally-safe methods.

Yet, the “energy is bad” ideology continues. Grade school students are taught that renewable energy is good and that hydrocarbon energy is bad. The EPA is waging a war on the U.S. coal industry. Demonstrators urge President Obama to stop the Keystone pipeline. And utilities tell us how we can “save the planet.”

By the way, reports state that the 20-room Tennessee house of former Vice President Al Gore devours more than 20 times the national average electricity usage. I wonder what rating Mr. Gore would get in a ComEd “Home Energy Report?”

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the new book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

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Joanie

When we had the ‘electricity crisis’ here, some years back, my family cut our electricity uses drastically. We naturally use less energy anyway, living in a temperate climate, so we were low to begin with. The next year, they encouraged people to conserve by giving them a rebate on the percentage they cut their usage… but of course, it was compared to the year before, where we had cut it to bare bones! So no rebate for us. There just wasn’t any more to cut. No other business is mandated to encourage that their customers use less of their product, it’s insane.

BarryW

Just wait. I bought a home in a new development back in the 70’s. We had a surcharge on our property tax bill to pay for the needed improvements in the water treatment system to support our new development. We were also lectured to try to reduce our water usage to prevent future water utility increases. A few years later we were informed that we were going to get a rate increase because the users had used too little water over the last few years! I expect the same is going to happen in the electrical utility world.

Mike

“Isn’t it odd that ComEd, a company in the energy business, is encouraging their customers not to use it? ”
It’s a new money for nothing business culture. Invest less, deliver less, make lots more money.
The time will come when you will be lashed in public for your over consumption of electricity. Shame will be cast on “bad” energy users. The error of you way will be found and corrected.
The smart meter will revolutionize socialism across the US.

HA HA !!
I too have my electrical service from Com Ed in northern Illinois.
I am willing to bet that both of my neighbors got the same letter you did, telling them that they used far more electricity than I do !!
I would dare say that without turning off my refrigerator and sitting around in the dark, that I couldn’t use any less electricity than I do now.
And guess what, I don’t not use electricity because I am concerned about “saving the planet”, but because I am a cheap bastard !!

Robertv

It’s 1984 Big Sister Napolitano.

Doug Badgero

Electricity is merely one form of energy. My house uses about twice what my neighbors use but that is because I have a geothermal heat pump for heating and cooling. I pay much less than my neighbors likely pay for heat in the winter. Electricity is fairly cheap here though (Great Lakes Region)

Latitude

We have a co op, if we used less, we would pay more……….
….it takes the same amount of money to run that business

Mike says:
February 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm
“Isn’t it odd that ComEd, a company in the energy business, is encouraging their customers not to use it? ”
====================================================
Nope, not at all.
Their grid is already maxed out and instead of spending billions to upgrade, they can spend millions to promte non-usage.

Leg

Excel, in our part of the country, was doing the same thing. I wrote to them and pointed out that their “comparative” statistics meant absolutely nothing for such reasons as my two person family is not going to compare with a 5 person family, or maybe a person runs a business out of their home, or there is a person with special needs, et cetera. The comparison had a totalitarianism to it that just disgusted me – pitting neighbor against neighbor. The comparisons were coming monthly, but haven’t seen one since I wrote to them. We need to fight back against the extremists and not let them take over our utilities like they did our schools. Write or email the company. It is not about saving energy, it is about control

My favorite statistic is one by an Australian nuclear scientist who is pushing fast reactor technology, due for widespread commercialization probably around 2020. That type of reactor can burn “nuclear waste” material, which still retains over 98% of its energy. His calculations are that
just the nuclear waste we have today would provide all of the electrical power this country will use
for the next 1000 years. And render that nuclear waste pretty much impotent in the process and
easily and cheaply stored until it reaches background radiation levels.
Energy crisis? What energy crisis? We have an intelligence deficit, not an energy deficit.
And “renewable” energy includes wood and biomass burning, which produces plenty of emissions. “Renewable” is not a synonym for emission-free.
I point out to clueless and bankrupt California,, which is spending a fortune trying to achieve 33% renewable power, that South Carolina, which has 6 reactors and produces 53% emission-free power right this minute, has gotten approval to add three more reactors, and will
achieve 90% (or more) emission-free power when they come online. Smart, California, really smart. Small wonder you’re bankrupt. Fear and ignorance can be costly.

QwithnoU

Actually, Joanie, there is another industry required to encourage their customers to use less of their product and it is very telling. It is the tobacco industry. Tobacco is the big “win” that enviro/leftists all love, so they model their strategies after what worked in the tobacco fight. You will often see comments comparing Big Oil to Big Tobacco or equating skeptical scientists with “pro-tobacco” scientists. “Clean energy” is the nicotine gum/patch meant to ween us off our energy “addiction” by giving us limited, unsatisfactory levels of energy until we forget what it was like to have large amounts of energy whenever we wanted.

MarkG

“It’s a new money for nothing business culture. Invest less, deliver less, make lots more money.”
Indeed. In many areas of business today the goal seems to be to charge more for doing less, and therefore not have to spend any money on increasing production. Greenism has become a very convenient excuse.

Rud Istvan

Mr. Goreham, you may have bought the MSM hype about horizontal drilling and frAcking of source shale rock for oil and gas. And indeed the resource is large.
But you have not looked up either the technically recoverable resource (independent of price). It ranges from 1 to 3% for tight oil, and at most 13% for shale gas. And you have not looked up the type decline curves for individual wells, which for both oil and gas decline rapidly to stripper status in about 3 years. That is because what is first accessed is petroleum trapped in natural cracks and fissures. The permeability if the shale is very, very low.
Your assertion about hundred of years of new petroleum bounty is worse geophysics than any of the nonsense in CAGW. And as AR5 SOD has shown, there continues to be far too much of that.
You are in a position where you should get your facts straight before opening. You may have climate expertise, but you have shown woeful ignorance of petroleum geophysics and engineering. Unfortunately, in that you are not alone.

Mike Smith

The best part is… the proponents of reduced energy use and green energy get to fly all over the globe on the ordinary citizen’s dime to evangelize their message.
Let the market set the price (without government interference) and let me decide how much of the darn stuff I want to purchase.
I choose not to drink soda but it riles me that controlists like Bloomberg are using the force of law to dictate to me what quantities I am permitted to purchase and consume.
It seems to me that slavery is fact making a comeback. It’s hardly surprising that the Democrats (who vigorously opposed the abolition) are leading the charge to establish their own new brand of politically correct slavery.

les.r.hunter@hunter@shaw.ca

Joanie the question may be who are my neighbors? Or more importantly, who are my designated neighbors?

Chris B

Mike says:
February 27, 2013 at 4:50 pm
“Isn’t it odd that ComEd, a company in the energy business, is encouraging their customers not to use it? ”
It’s a new money for nothing business culture. Invest less, deliver less, make lots more money.
—————————————
Many national governments take in far more money than is spent on programs due to having to pay interest on enormous debt. When the interest payments equal government revenues we will be paying taxes for nothing but past ostentatious lavishness. Apologies to Machiavelli.

What happened to energy independence?

Bob Diaz

RE: For decades, environmental groups have waged war on energy. They warn that increased energy usage will pollute the Earth, destroy the climate, and rapidly exhaust natural resources.
—————————————-
What we need is an anti-hypocrisy law. Anyone who works for or is a member of these environmental groups will be disconnected from the grid. Then they will be given information on “green energy” sources that they can pay for and install. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. ;-))

Goldie

In Western Australia we are told that we should save energy between 4 and 9 pm. So the idea is that we spend our days working for the man and then when we get home we are supposed to live in darkness. This is a direct attack on the very basis of our modern society. If I can’t come home, cook a meal, drink a cold beer and watch repeats on the telly, what the hell am I working for?

Steve from Rockwood

OK, I use a lot of electricity. Two homes and a business on one property. But look at my electricity bill.
7,407 kWh in February (coldest month)
$601.28 for electricity use ($0.081/kWh)
But….
$187.45 delivery fee
$46.93 regulatory charges
$50.05 debt retirement charge
$115.68 taxes
total is $963.49 ($0.13/kWh)
Over 35% of my electricity bill is delivery charges, debt retirement and taxes.
They may encourage you to use less electricity but your payments will still go up.

John M

As a long suffering owner of Exelon stock (the parent of ComEd), and its now 40% lower dividend, this doesn’t surprise me. Exelon went “all in” with a CO2-free strategy, being big on “renewables” and nuclear and slow on natural gas. Having one of its major units (ComEd) based in one of the most punishing regulatory landscapes in the country hasn’t helped either.
This kind of nonsense doesn’t do much for the concept of “fiduciary responsibility” with regard to shareholder value.

Another ecological Failure about to happen because of the Greenpeace, WWF and the National Trust extremists. When energy prices go up, in the UK the National Trust (unelected) Will cut down more trees and sell them of for fire wood. To make more money.

If anyone needs photographic proof let me know!

Bob Koss

They should compare customer usage to the CEO of the company.

Don’t feed the rats’ is the scripture of these extremists.

SAMURAI

What’s funny is that electrical companies put out these PR flyers to encourage consumers to reduce their energy usage and then provide government officials with data showing reduced electrical consumption and subsequent falling revenues, which then is used as justification to increase electricity rates….
Conservation is fine, but it’s up to the individual to decide. If the US government would simply establish the rules and regulations to enable private sector companies to develop, build and run Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs), the world’s need for cheap, clean and “renewable” energy needs would be fixed for…well,… forever…
The Chinese now have 750 nuclear physicists with PhDs frantically working on developing LFTRs. Their first test reactor should go online by 2015~17 and a major roll out of LFTRs could start by 2020~2025….
Western governments have wasted $Billions ($Trillions by now?) building/subsidizing expensive, inefficient, intermittent solar/wind faaaaarms. The Chinese are spending $500 million to develop/build LFTRs, which will lead to the cheapest form of electrical production in the world…
Guess who’s going to win the energy war, the West or China??… Hmmmm….
We don’t HAVE an energy problem. We have a Politicians-Are-Complete-Idiots problem….
And so it goes…. until it doesn’t….

Barbee

I haven’t had a vacation (trip) in over 25 years. The POTUS used more energy on his last vacation than I will in my entire lifetime.
And I am supposed to do WHAT? I say shove it where the sun don’t shine and then: Turn on an incandescent light bulb.

Seems we all get these “higher consumption than your neighbours” screeds. In our case, house occupied all day, home office, work-related gear that doesn’t like heat/humidity etc. Compared to an empty house one side and single person out all day on the other, not surprising. The screed now says “in your area” so that could mean anything. I nearly switched over to a “lower” tariff for the aircon, but that is now timed to switch off when needed most.
I spotted the energy company’s “all electric car” parked 20+ km out of town. Hmmm – a “bridge too far” ? Sure enough, it had to be collected 🙂

Matthew W says:
February 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Nope, not at all.
Their grid is already maxed out and instead of spending billions to upgrade, they can spend millions to promte non-usage.
===========
well they had better put a fence around grid and prevent people from having children, or new immigrants from moving in, or prevent anyone else in the US from moving there.
Maybe if they raise their prices really high no one will be able to afford to live where they supply power. That for sure will save a lot of energy.
If every energy company in the US was to raise prices high enough then pretty soon the only place anyone could afford to live would be Mexico. That would cut energy use and pollution a whole lot more.
I’m surprised the US government hasn’t passed a law preventing companies from burning the plentiful supplies of US coal, thus forcing the US to import oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
Much better to get you oil from foreign countries that hate you, rather than pipe it in from your allies and neighbors in Canada. Force the Canadian’s to ship their oil to China at your peril.
Will the last person left in the US with affordable power please turn the light off.

L.

“No other business is mandated to encourage that their customers use less of their product, it’s insane.”
That’s not strctly true.
The tobacco companies (at least here in Australia) are forced to run advertising (on the packets) that actively encourages people to stop buying their product.

Streetcred

Looks like Roy Spencer’s site has just been hacked.

SAMURAI says:
February 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm
Conservation is fine, but it’s up to the individual to decide.
=============
Ultimately, the only solution that truly conserves power is to prevent people from immigrating and to prevent people from having children. That model has already been tried. In China many years ago. During the Great Leap Backwards. Cambodia followed much the same model. The population did their best to cut power use by dying and the government officials met all their conservation targets in accordance with the regulations. One big happy family.

michael hart

When a human stops using energy, that human is technically dead.

scott

i remember as a kid how wonderful all the outside christmas lights were on houses. Then the message came out in i forget what year that they were using too much energy (bad). It hasnt been the same since. With the small light bulbs it costs relitivily little now but the damage was done. I think the same propaganda is going on now taking the fun out of life by telling everyone that its bad to use energy.

Mike H

“For decades, environmental groups have waged war on energy”
Really should read:
For decades, environmental groups have used energy to wage war on energy.

SAMURAI

Ferdberple says:
Ultimately, the only solution that truly conserves power is to prevent people from immigrating and to prevent people from having children. That model has already been tried. In China many years ago.
=====================
Yes, China’s one-child policy was a complete disaster. The demographic shift of their population is bizarre and tragic with a large discrepancy between male/female youth population (females were simply aborted in the 10’s of millions…).
The social and economic consequences of this awful and destructive one-child policy will be felt for generations.
According to the mathematicians, the world’s population will peak at 10 billion around 2060 and then decline rather sharply thereafter. We’re already seeing falling populations in some advanced countries such as Japan, whose population dropped 200,000 last year alone….

SAMURAI says:
February 27, 2013 at 7:58 pm
We are all fat alcoholic smokers dying with everything from x but living longer too.

DJ

The simple purpose of the letter was to convince you to use less, under whatever pretext, so that they can later complain that power usage is down, but their costs remain the same, thereby justifying a rate increase.
So in the end, you save energy and use less, but end up paying the same total. Hidden inflation.

John F. Hultquist

DJ says : “Hidden inflation.”
Also one of the many drawbacks of adding Ethanol to gasoline.
Get used to this as no one wants to use the word bankrupt.

Eve

I see that Steve from Rockwood is from Ontario. We have already seen a hike in Ontario due to reduced consumption. But then we see a hike twice a year anyway. It will be fun to see how Ontario deals with the increased usage in the summer (from airconditioners) without coal burning plants. Since I am not in Ontario at present, my usage is low and I am paying $50 a month. If I turned my main breaker and had no usage they would charge me $60 a month for delivery. Politicians are complete idiots and they force electricity companies to be so also.

Al Gore

So far, both companies and governments have made money on more consumption(profit and taxes).
With less consumption they both loose money(profit and taxes).
In order to stay in business the companies have to increase prices and the government have to increase taxes.
For the consumer this means “less for more” and a war against living closer to the polar regions where the climate is colder. If they follow this path it means that businesses(kapital) and then next people sooner or later no longer can afford to be positioned or live In Nothern Europe/America/Asia.
And this demographic movement toward the equator will be anthropogenic driven for shure?

Chuck Bradley

The letter from the electric company is the result of a government rule. Similar letters are showing up in other places. I get them every month or so. Same government push. Electricity is not the only product that the seller has to advertise against the use of. Water suppliers here in Massachusetts are limited by State rules to how much water they can take from nature each day, on average. Our district, and I suspect most suppliers, are required to supply water to everyone that wants it. There is a lot of open space for building houses and apartments. The withdrawal limit does not increase with the population.

Al Gore

““For decades, environmental groups have waged war on energy”
Really should read:
For decades, environmental groups have used energy to wage war on energy.”
I think it’s really an ideologic attack on today’s Western world political/democratic/economic system with more or less kapitalism, consumer and growth society?
Because this gives better and longer life’s to the voters than Leftist ideologies can?
Why did the communism in Erope fail and fall so hard? Because it was ment to give the people better, richer and longer life’s than the capitalist pigs countries? And when the people living under communism saw with their own eyes that the opposite happend I think everybody lost faith in it? So communism and socialism can’t compete with the economic growth from ideological systems with more or less kapitalism. China today is a political communist and economical kapitalist system.
How do you breake today’s Western kapitalism?
By taking away its cheap energy it’s based on.
I don’t understand how Americans can vote for a Man that promises less for more, poverty and miserable life’s?

What are they going to do when everyone starts plugging their electric cars in to charge overnight so that they can drive a whole 40 miles?

Speaking of energy conservation, I just bought a brand new gas guzzling SUV. My first new vehicle in decades. I’m putting a cute little green leaf icon on the back bumper with the following: “Powdered by natural organic fuel which releases plant flood to create a greener environment “. Being a chemist I can assure you that gasoline is comprised of organic molecules of natural origin.

Rud Istvan, your comment seems to contradict some other information on the subject:
http://www.masterresource.org/?s=oil+gas+reserves+traditional+technically+recoverable

If Al Gore does own an gulfstream II, he is burning more in three hours than my car, my wifes car and my house use all year, all forms of energy, I dont think that I am going to feel guilty driving an f-150 to work by myself!

David C

I happen to work for one of those companies that encourages people to save energy. Mainly to save money, so they can buy our projects which will help them save more energy. The electrical grid in America is in such bad shape that the power companies cannot build plants quick enough to provide peak capacity with any safety margin. I think maximizing shareholder profits for utility companies had the disastrous consequence of delayed investment in upgrading the grid. Whether a planned or unplanned crisis, the result is the same, it’s cheaper to lower the baseline demand than raise the baseline capacity.

Same ads here in Queensland.
i keep imagining a GM ad on TV. We’ve built the new 2013 Holden Commodore. It is a really great car. Quiet, spacious, economical with really great handling – but please don’t buy one. Make your old car last a bit longer.
Robert Heinlein did call this time ” the crazy years” in his future history timeline. He was a hopeless optimist.

Joe Public

There is nothing new in energy companies encouraging their customers to use less of their product.
British Gas led the way in the 1970’s (before Global Warming was invented), with their GEM (Gas Energy Management) Awards to Industrial and commercial customers. Their sales staff actively encouraged energy conservation and the efficient use of fuel by their customers.
The rationale being that an efficient user was less likely to defect to a competing fuel/energy.
It was Su