The Utility Bill "Full Monty" Revue

By Published On: June 26, 2009

Editors’ Note: For a bit of summer enlightenment and entertainment, we introduce our utility bill “Full Monty" throwdown. This week, we highlight energy bills of relevant non-profit executive directors Circuit reviewed. In the weeks to come, some regulatory staff and commissioners said they would rise to the challenge. So far, utility executives have declined to participate, but they can always change their minds. We at Circuit will show you ours soon We promise to check in this time next year to see what changes. Utility bills May-June 2009: Arthur O’Donnell--Executive director, Center for Resource Solutions. Total Pacific Gas & Electric bill in San Francisco for two-person household: $86.66. Electricity, $48.19. Gas, $35.91. Michael Shames--Executive director, Utility Consumers’ Action Network. Total San Diego Gas & Electric bill $3.96 (that’s not a typo) for a household of three in San Diego. Electricity use, negative 223 kWh because rooftop solar produced more energy than used. Mark Toney--Executive director, The Utility Reform Network. Total PG&E bill $156.86. Electricity $87.86. Gas $54.73. Carl Zichella--Western Renewable Program Director, Sierra Club. Total PG&E bill: $80.15. Electricity, $62.08. Gas, $16.71. What They’re Saying “What sport!” Mark Toney The Utility Reform Network executive director. “We have gotten into a habit of leaving the TV on for Sam the dog when we’re out; he likes PBS and doesn’t bark at everything on the street. The cat has not expressed any interest in electricity use, and prefers a sunny spot.” Arthur O’Donnell, executive director, Center for Resource Solutions. “The surplus is to be used for my aquaponics systems that I’m installing that will grow food and fish in my garage and for my anticipated purchase of a plug-in Prius or electric car when they come out in a year or two. In the meantime, we are producing excess power that won’t be used by the utility until they install smart meters in my neighborhood.” Michael Shames, executive director, Utility Consumers’ Action Network. Remembering Al Gore’s Utility Bill In 2007, former Vice President Al Gore’s utility bill stirred controversy because it was more than 20 times higher than the average household bill. A conservative non-profit group in Tennessee broke the story after it examined the energy bills for Gore’s 20-room home in suburban Nashville. The records showed that Gore paid about $30,000 a year for electricity and natural gas, which proved an embarrassment to the climate change crusader on the eve of his triumphal Academy Award for An Inconvenient Truth. The bills themselves did not tell Gore’s whole story. First, both Gore and his wife ran businesses out of their homes. Second, they chose to pay a premium to supply their home with green energy. Even then, the exposure prompted Gore to retrofit his home with solar panels and energy efficiency measures. A Gore spokesperson maintained that the retrofits eventually lowered his home energy bills by 40 percent.

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