Today in Fortnightly

January CPI: How Far Have Electric & Gas Prices Fallen?

In last year, electric fell 2.4%, gas fell 12.7%, while overall CPI rose 1.4%

On Friday, the Consumer Price Index for January was announced. The ultimate measure of consumer prices was unchanged from December, for all consumer goods and services. 

But for electric service, specifically, the index fell seven tenths of a percent. For natural gas service, specifically, the index fell six tenths of a percent. This means electricity and natural gas became cheaper, relatively.

January CPI: How Far Have Electric Prices Fallen Regionally?

In last year, electric prices fell 6.2% in the northeast (9.9% in Boston area, 11% in NY area) and 3.5% in the south (9.5% in Houston area, 8.7% in Dallas area)

On Friday, the Consumer Price Index for January was announced. Yesterday's column analyzed this ultimate measure of consumer prices, for all goods and services, and then electric and natural gas service specifically. Pretty interesting. 

But the numbers were averaged for the country as a whole. Today's column will look at the indices for regions and metro areas. 

PUF’s March Madness, A Preview

A tiny peek at the new March issue, its 72 pages of articles, columns, cartoons, photography, puzzles, perspectives on our past

March Birthdays

Gustav Kirchhoff, who you can blame for the miserable complexity of electrical transmission and distribution systems, was born on March 12. Kirchoff's collaborator, in finding two of the 118 elements, was Robert Bunsen. That's right, he's the one that invented the mainstay of chem labs since, the Bunsen burner.

PUF 20 Years Ago

Illinois Commissioner Ruth Kretschmer Wanted Answers About Restructuring.

Twenty years ago, in February 1996, the cover of Public Utilities Fortnightly was emblazoned with the words: Competitive Generation: Are We There Yet? The lead article was authored by Ruth Kretschmer, a highly respected commissioner on the Illinois Commerce Commission. 

Kretschmer served as a regulator there for twenty years, July 1983 - December 2002. She also chaired the Commission for a time, as well as the NARUC Gas Committee. 

My PUF Ad Campaign 33 Years Ago

Steve Jobs and Woz, Jimmy Carter, Lipstick, and a PUF ad campaign.

It was 1981. Steve Jobs and Woz (aka Steve Wozniak) started selling what were called micro-computers. These were micro enough for a small business like mine to buy and figure out how to use.

We were pumped. Before long, we coded programs to perform system planning, cost of service, and revenue requirement analyses for utilities.  It was incredible these could be done on an Apple II. 

Awkward though. As when users had to continuously switch between the five and a quarter inch diskettes for the programs and data, in the external disk drive.

Another Era of Cheap Electricity?

Friday’s GDP data: now 11 months in a row where electric bills have been 1.5% or less of personal expenditures.

Good news this Monday morn. You probably saw Friday the Commerce Department's announcement about the nation's Gross Domestic Product, the GDP. Buried in the many numbers used to figure out the GDP, electric bills were just 1.4 percent of personal consumption expenditures. 

Over two-thirds of the GDP is spent by and for individuals and families. These personal expenditures amount to a big number, more than twelve and a half trillion dollars. 

Latest Data: What Produced Our Zero-Emission Electricity?

93.5% of December’s zero-emissions electricity from nuclear, hydro, wind.

Yesterday's column said that zero-emissions electricity amounted to an impressive 37.4 percent of grid electricity in December 2015. It looks like we have the greenest grid in anyone's memory.

Where did that 120,633 thousand megawatt-hours of electricity come from that emitted no greenhouse gases? Including the clean power produced by distributed generation.

How Many Lights in a Home? Energy Dept. Counted

Energy Dept. study: 67 lights in average home

How many lights are there in a home? The Energy Department counted. In a report published three years ago, for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, it estimated that there were 67 lights in the average American home.

Seems like a lot. But you have to include everything. The six-bulb chandelier. That's six lights. The lights in the garage, those at the front steps, in closets and the cellar. Those are totaled too.

A house's bedrooms have 16 lights on average. And the bathrooms have another 10. The exterior has another 9. 

Electricity Sales a Predictor of Presidential Elections?

March 1996 article said weak electricity sales growth predicted Carter’s and H.W. Bush’s reelection loss, and speculated about Clinton’s chances.

"Elections and Electrons: Who Will Win in '96," was the article's title, in the March 15, 1996 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly, 20 years ago. The author analyzed annual electricity sales growth and observed weak growth in the years that President Jimmy Carter lost his reelection bid to Ronald Reagan, in 1980, and that George H.W. Bush lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton, in 1992.

PUF Funnies: Informing and Amusing

The New Yorker cartoons, our cartoonist Tim Kirby, plus Reddy Kilowatt

The fateful year 1929 ushered in two milestones in the history of publishing. That January, just nine months before the stock market crash, Public Utilities Fortnightly put out its first issue. Even more monumental, that same month saw the debut of The Funnies, the predecessor to the American comic book.

The Funnies laid the groundwork for Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics, started in 1933. Historians consider it the first true comic book. 

Those depression years were a time of despair. Comics offered welcome if temporary relief.