Today in Fortnightly

Man of the Year Founds PUR, Ultimately PUF

Great American, Owen Young, founded GE, RCA, NBC, and Public Utilities Reports as well

While Owen Young was chairman of General Electric, GE, he founded and chaired the Radio Corporation of America, RCA. So he headed the leading company in two of the country's top industries, electricity and communications. 

Incidentally, he also helped found the National Broadcasting Company, NBC. And, as we'll touch on below, he helped found Public Utilities Reports, the publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.

But Time magazine named him Man of the Year in 1930 for something else. 

More on the Famous Founder of Public Utilities Reports

Owen Young had a “hazy plan in mind” to put together a central information source on utility regulatory cases and decisions.

In 1932, in the depths of the great depression, Owen Young was considered by many to be the favorite to be elected the nation's next president. The chairman of General Electric, GE, and the Radio Corporation of America, RCA, was famous and admired for his many accomplishments in business and public service. 

June crossword puzzle answers

Here are the answers to the crossword puzzle in the June 2016 issue:



2. Gray Californian: davis

6. Peter of New York: bradford

10. Governator: schwarzenegger

13. Disgraced Texan: lay

14. Oops. Last two in alphabet: yz

18. Disgraced with 13 Across: skilling

19. Cato economist: niskanen

20. Pete of California: wilson

22. Edison institute vet: kuhn

23. Building nuclear: fanning

24. Harvard prof's markets: hogan

27. New England, then Midwest: rowe

CPI Spread Measures Electricity Price Fall

CPI-Electricity fell 1.3% while overall CPI rose 1%

The Consumer Price Index was published last Thursday for May 2016. Electricity? The CPI for electricity has fallen 1.3 percent over the twelve months ending May.

During the same period, the overall CPI has risen 1 percent. So electricity is significantly less expensive than it was a year ago.

The spread between the overall CPI and the CPI-Electricity is a measure of electricity becoming less expensive. The spread for May was 2.3 percent.

The spread is computed by subtracting the overall CPI, at 1 percent, less the CPI-Electricity, at minus 1.3 percent.

Electricity Industry's First Convention

“Let us in a friendly way compare notes, tell each other all we know, tell each other anything that has been a benefit to us and can be to others.”

The annual convention of the Edison Electric Institute was held last week in Chicago, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The first annual convention of what was then called the National Electric Light Association was also held in Chicago, at the Grand Pacific Hotel. 

That was some time ago. The first convention was called to order at 11 a.m. on February 25, 1885. A conference in Chicago in February?

Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station had started serving customers just two and a half years earlier. The electricity industry was very new.

Electric Appliances for the 1912 Home

Cigar Lighter, Corn Popper, Foot Warmer, Stable Groomer, Sweating Blanket

Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station inaugurated electric service in 1882. Just thirty years later, in 1912, electrification of the home was underway.

The National Electric Light Association, NELA, was the predecessor to the Edison Electric Institute of our day. NELA published a book that year describing the must-have appliances for every room. 

Targeting the affluent household particularly, it said: 

Powerless Old Men

A chessboard, a park, two old men, memories of when power freed people

The old man, Ernest, craned and stared at a chessboard. Minutes passed. A soft breeze blew through the park. The bird above them heralded the development. 

Rook move? Or the pawn? Like looking through googles underwater, the board, the best move, felt fuzzy. Decisions once felt clear, decisive, he recalls. But that was long ago. 

"Move something, damn it." Patrick, perched across, was growing crankier by the day. "Hard to believe you ran a power outfit. Your electrons must have been the slowest in the industry."

April's Electric Bills Lowest Month in Four Years

April’s electric bills averaged around $86.50, $2.88 per day

U.S. households paid utilities $10.9 billion for electric service in April. That's what the Energy Department told us Friday in its latest data release.

It was the least that households have spent on electricity in a while. The last time a month's electric bills were this low? April 2012, four years earlier.

Over these four years, April 2012 to April 2016, the number of households increased by about four percent. And the overall consumer price index increased by about four and a half percent. 

Disappearing Coal-Fired Electricity

How much longer before coal routinely falls below 20 percent of all generation?

The lowest number of megawatt-hours produced from coal-firing, in memory, was this April. According to Friday's Energy Department data. 

Second lowest number of megawatt-hours from coal? This March. Fourth lowest? This February. (Third lowest was last November.)

Indeed, over the last few decades, in only eight months has the number of megawatt-hours from coal fallen below a hundred million. 

Three of those eight months were February, March and April of this year. Another three of those months were October, November and December of last year. 

Sun Spot: Residential Solar per Friday's Energy Dept. Data

In extremely optimistic scenario for residential solar growth, output would still fall below 1% of 2020 electricity supply

Residential rooftop solar increased its output from 1.6 million megawatt-hours in the first four months of 2015 to 2.4 million megawatt-hours in the first four months of 2016. This according to the latest data of the Energy Department released Friday.

It's a large increase in percentage. Output from rooftops increased fifty percent. 

At this high rate of increase, if it continued, January - April output would be 3.6 million in 2017, 5.4 million in 2018, 8.1 million in 2019, and 12.2 million in 2020.