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Opening Arguments

Watts up?

Representatives of Indiana Michigan Power visited with the editorial board yesterday to argue for their proposed rate hike, and I've gone into a mini obsessive state over what electricity costs:

1,000 watt-hours is a kilowatt-hour (kWh). For example.

  • One 100-watt light bulb on for an hour, is 0.1 kWh (100/1000)
  • One 100-watt light bulb on for ten hours is 1 kWh (1 bulbs x 100W x 10h= 1000Wh = 1 kWh)
  • Ten 100-watt light bulbs on for an hour, is 1 kWh (10 bulbs x 100W x 1h= 1000Wh = 1 kWh)
  • Ten 50-watt light bulbs on for an hour, is 0.5 kWh
  • Ten 100-watt light bulbs on for 1/2 an hour, is 0.5 kWh
  • Running a 3500-watt air conditioner for an hour is 3.5 kWh.

 Take a moment to understand the difference between kilowatts and kilowatt-hours. The former is the rate of power at any instant. The latter is the amount of energy used A light bulb doesn't use 60 watts in an hour, it uses 60 watt-hours in an hour.

Electricity now costs the average customer here about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour, the I&M representatives told us, and would cost us about 8.7 cents a kilowatt-hour if the increase is approved. I've been going around the house and looking at all the lights I leave on when they don't need to be on -- four 100-watters I leave on in the living room, even when I'm at work; a 100-watter in the basement and three 40-watters in the kitchen that are on all the time. It's relatively easy to do the lightbulb math and calculate what a wastrel I am. If I start trying to figure out what my air conditioning, computers and appliances cost to run, I'll know I'm really obsessed.


Steve T.
Tue, 07/08/2008 - 3:44pm

I&M's duty as a public utility is not to sell their plan to officials of influence, but to provide full disclosure to the people directly and show how the folks who pay the bills are going to benefit once the new technology is implemented across the board.

The danger here is that everybody will pay for progress, but I&M will wind up "pulling a Comcast" and putting the new bells and whistles we pay for on a so-called Optional Premium Residential Tier. Scr#w that.

If we pay now, let's all reap the volume discount as we should once we've paid for this technology they're so keen on. Otherwise, let such businesses as these do what all Americans are being forced to do in these times, and that is to recognize that wastrels like us Americans can all find plenty of ways to do more with less and lower the monthly nut when margins go down.

Let's declare the obvious from the rooftops, in case any business hasn't got the clue -- I'm looking for ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency SO MY BILLS WILL DECREASE on a graph that tracks with income, retail prices, & cost of living -- not so somebody else can charge more and hold THEIR margins on what I save. Times are tough all over for Americans, so deal.

Tue, 07/08/2008 - 9:37pm

Last year I & M announced its first rate hike in 17 years. Not-so-coincidentally, parent AEP entered into an agreement which relates to a $4.6 BILLION settlement with the EPA on a lawsuit involving pollution from the utility's coal-fired generating plants. We are talking one company and $4.6 Billion.

Guess who gets to pay for this nonsense. We will be heating rocks in caves before long.

Harl Delos
Wed, 07/09/2008 - 3:08am

AEP is NOT one company, gadfly. It's AEP Ohio (formerly known as Ohio Power), AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia, West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company

The EPA fined them $15 million. Given that they sell $38 million in electricity PER DAY, that's not a big deal.

They also have to invest $4.6 billion in their physical plant. They already have $40.6 billion in assets. Yeah, $4.6 billion is nothing to sneeze at, but that 11% increase is money they should have paid in the first place, to keep air breathable.

So if the reason I&ME is raising rates is because AEP got caught polluting the air, why are NON-AEP companies raising THEIR electric rates by about the same percentage?

Indiana Service Corporation used to run the interurban, and they sold their excess electricity to industrial and residential customers. It got split up, with the electricity part of the business ending up as part of I&M today, and the transportation part of the business becoming Fort Wayne's bus system. It looks like AEP is doing a better job of management than PTC is.

It's hardly AEP's fault that all forms of energy are more expensive these days. They have to buy the fuel that runs their generators, the same as anyone that heats and cools a home, fuels a vehicle, or eats food.