Today in Fortnightly

Electricity's Revenues Down in 2015

Revenues in industrial and commercial sectors down four billion and one billion

Revenues from sales of electricity were down three billion dollars, nationally, 2015 through November, per the Energy Department. Unadjusted for inflation. That’s a decrease of nine tenths of a percent from the prior year.

The prime driver was sales to the industrial sector. Revenues from industrial companies were down over four billion dollars. As a percentage, that’s a drop of 6.7 percent. Not a typo, 6.7 percent! 

Elizabeth Warren's Article in PUF

Senator Warren gets her start in Public Utilities Fortnightly

It was mid-July 1980, and Elizabeth Warren was busy. She both submitted her article to Public Utilities Fortnightly, and married a fellow law professor. 

Iran held our hostages, and we led a boycott of the Moscow Olympics (following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan). Her article, “The Regulatory Lag Fallacy,” was published in the mid-August 1980 issue. 

Electric Bills Down to 1.37 Percent

For ten straight months, electricity 1.5 percent or less of consumer expenditures

The Commerce Department last week reported the gross domestic product. A major component of the GDP is personal consumption expenditures, what is spent by American households on all goods and services. Plus what is spent on their behalf, by insurance companies for example.

A tiny slice of consumer expenditures is our electric bills. How tiny? In December 2015, just 1.37 percent of expenditures were to pay for electricity. 

Electricity Horror Movies

The Pulse, Shocker, Ghost in the Machine, The Darkest Hour

The Pulse (1988)

An intelligent pulse of electricity moves from house to house. It's really a smart grid. 

It terrorizes households by taking control of their appliances. The Internet of things run amok. The pulse kills some people but others wreck their house fighting it. Then the pulse travels along the power lines to the next house, and the horror repeats itself.

More Electricity Horror Movies

Frankenstein, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Maximum Overdrive, The Brave Little Toaster

Last Friday's "Today from Public Utilities Fortnightly," summarizing four electricity horror movies, stirred many of you to find more such flicks. Here's four:

Frankenstein (1931)

The first Frankenstein film was a 16-minute picture created in 1910 by Edison Studios. Thomas Edison may have been the producer.

In the legendary 1931 film, scientist Henry Frankenstein and assistant Fritz assemble a human body from parts collected from around their European village. Frankenstein wants to create human life through electrical devices he's "innovated." 

Hundred Machines, Appliances, Devices in Your Home?

Does your household have a hundred or more electric machines, appliances, devices?

Basic twenty-five electric machines, appliances, devices in most homes excluding lights:

1. one window air conditioner or central air conditioning
2. one gas furnace fan motor/igniter or electric heat
3. one interior thermostat
4. one ceiling, standing or table fan
5. one microwave oven
6. one coffee maker
7. one toaster
8. one refrigerator/freezer
9. one dishwasher
10. one garbage disposal

Electricity Two Percent of GDP

America’s electric bill, two to three percent since the 1950’s, now steadily two percent

There are several good measures of what electricity costs us. What's the best? Let's try dividing the total of all our electric bills into America's gross domestic product, its GDP.

This way, we capture all our expenditures on electric service. Whether directly through residential bills. Or indirectly through the bills paid by businesses and institutions that we ultimately pay for (through our purchases of all goods and services).

Low Income's Electric Bills

Electric bills average four to four-and-a-half percent of expenditures of low income households

One of the primary concerns in utility regulation, rightfully so, is the affordability of electricity to low income households. So how are we doing in this critical area? 

The answer can be found in the latest semi-annual Consumer Expenditure Survey by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This survey has been providing extraordinary insights about what Americans buy, and what they spend, since the 1980's. It samples many thousands of households quarterly and repeatedly. 

How They Thought About Electricity

Three books from the thirties and forties remind us about how precious was the arrival of electricity

Engineering and Invention, 1934

You will see that this house everywhere is generously supplied with these outlets.  They give life to a variety of electric devices, and make it possible for them to be used wherever and whenever they are needed.  They are the source of much pleasure and convenience.

But today, with the electricity cut off, they might as well not exist...

If we listen to the talk of the people we shall hear them say over and over again: "Never did we realize before that electricity played such an important part in our lives."