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Off-Peak Stories in February’s PUF

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A November 2015 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, found there's a major downside to the latest television technology that we all crave, ultra high-definition (UHD, or 4K).  Replacing all of America's televisions of at least 36 inches with UHD would increase the nation's electric bills by a billion dollars, to pay for eight billion more kilowatt-hours.  Five million more tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted.

The concern is so great about the "profound" national energy and environmental consequences that they recommend a range of actions by the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency (via Energy Star), Federal Trade Commission, California Energy Commission, utilities across the country, manufacturers, retailers and researchers.  NRDC also recommended that we "arm users with information about how their behavior can have an impact  on energy consumption."  

Mother Nature Network, in reporting this story, went further.  It did acknowledge the appeal of UHD: "If you find one of these under your [Christmas] tree, you're in for a treat; the jump in quality ... is really amazing."  But, considering the environmental side-effect, "it wouldn't hurt to use [a UHD television] in moderation." 

Customer Owes Almost $100K in Overdue Utility Bills 

The Philadelphia Inquirer (Andrew Maykuth, December 27, 2015) reports that PECO has been trying for years to have a Chester, PA landlord pay his overdue electric and gas utility bills.  What makes this newsworthy is the considerable amount and years of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and court proceedings on this matter.

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PECO sued the customer in 1993 and 2003 and obtained a court order in 2007 to garnishee bank accounts.  Reportedly, multiple utility service accounts have been opened and closed with frequency to put off the day of reckoning for what is now almost $97,000 in amounts due.

A PUC commissioner, dismissing a complaint by the customer in November, said she was troubled the utility would allow such an "astronomical balance" to accumulate.  She added, "It is critically important to the customers who are ultimately left footing the bills for such abuses that our utilities act vigilantly to prevent them." 

Starting with the February issue, Public Utilities Fortnightly will incorporate a few quirky stories about the electric and gas utilities industry, as well as cartoons, photography, thought-provoking quotes, and retrospectives on the industry's history, to make this venerable publication a more engaging read as well as highly-informative.

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly
E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com