Today in Fortnightly

First Winner of PUF Cross-Examination Award

Times didn’t note Mississippi residential rates are 9.2% lower than last year and 11.4% below national average.

We urge The New York Times and others to take greater care if and when they’re inclined to blame electric bills for poverty and layoffs. These are scourges for which there are multiple causes and multiple approaches to lessen their burden.

Electric Bills All-Time Record Low 1.4%

The falling percentage of electric bills has freed nearly 1% of consumption expenditures since the 1980s.

Last week, the Commerce Department's data for the Gross Domestic Product again highlighted electricity's affordability. Residential electric bills in May were 1.40 percent of personal consumption expenditures nationally.

This compares to 1.46 percent in May 2015, 1.43 percent in May 2014, and 1.43 percent in May 2013. 

And compares to 1.40 percent in April 2016, 1.36 percent in March 2016, 1.39 percent in February 2016, and 1.41 percent in January 2016.

Bottom line? Residential electric bills have been consistently moderate for a while.

Where are Renewables? Where are People?

Utility scale wind in Texas alone produced eight times more power than all the residential solar in the U.S.

Renewables generated 121.1 million megawatt-hours in the first four months of the year, per the latest Energy Department data. 

That is, in vogue renewables. Excluded are out of vogue renewables: hydro and nuclear.

Utility scale solar generated 9.7 million megawatt-hours. Distributed solar generated 4.6 million.

Of the distributed solar number, 2.4 million was residential solar, 1.8 million was commercial, and 0.4 was industrial.

Crossword Puzzle answers, July 2016

Spoiler alert! Here are answers to the crossword puzzle, State PUCs, in the July 2016 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly:


1. Typical no. of commissioners in states: five

3. Very common in commission names: service

5. In Iowa, New Jersey, Vermont's names: board

7. Commissions' association: naruc

9. Smaller no. of commissioners in states: three

11. Commissioners' research arm: nrri

12. ___ discrimination: undue

13. Acronym for commission: psc

19. Commissions' judges: alj

Natural Gas Falls

$1 out of every $250 of expenditures is spent on natural gas

Natural gas bills were 0.40 percent of Americans' consumption expenditures in 2015. 

In other words, one dollar out of every two hundred and fifty dollars of expenditures is spent on gas. Not that much.

Indeed, this percentage in 2015 was the lowest in any year since the Commerce Department started tracking expenditures in 1959. 

Only 2012 had a percentage as low as 0.40. Natural gas bills were 0.45 percent of expenditures in 2013, and 0.47 percent in 2014.

Gas by Region

Midwest: higher average gas bills, higher percent of gas heat. South: lower average gas bills, lower percent of gas heat

Nationally, American households’ natural gas bills averaged $439 in 2014. This is the latest estimate of the Labor Department’s Consumer Expenditure Survey.

This amount is actually lower than the average gas bills in six prior years. 

In 2008, when the average was at an all-time high of $531. In 2006, when the average was $509. 

Date in Infamy and PUF

PUF after the Pearl Harbor attack and entry into WWII

Look at the December 18, 1941 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Our first issue after the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II. 

Not a word about the dramatic developments. The issue must have gone to the printer by December 7.

World War II Ends! And PUF

PUF after the Japanese surrender ending World War II

Look at the August 2, 1945 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Our issue before the Japanese surrender and the ending of World War II. 

Not a word about the dramatic developments to come in days. The bomb at Hiroshima, then at Nagasaki. Finally, the surrender. And the welcoming (and uncertainty) of peacetime.

It's a Gas

Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Cab Calloway, James Baldwin, Rolling Stones, and natural gas

"She is come at last - at last - and all is gas and goiters." —Charles Dickens, "Nicholas Nickleby," 1839

"[The slingshot] to have some gas with the birds." James Joyce, "Dubliners: An Encounter," 1914

"When it comes to dancing, she's a gasser." Cab Calloway, "The Hepsters Dictionary," 1944

Energy Dept. data is hot hot hot

Monday, we peaked at 708 thousand MWH and used 14.1 million overall that day

How you feelin'? The latest Energy Dept. data says, hot hot hot.

US electricity use was 94.9 million megawatt-hours in the week ending July 22, 2016. 

Continental US. Sorry Hawaii and Alaska. 

That's 4.1 percent higher than the comparable week last July. And 9.4 percent higher than three weeks earlier, the week ending June 27.