Conserve and your rates may go up!

jrdwyerOctober 7, 2008

With a weak economy locally and high fuel costs, many people in our area have been cutting their expenses anyway they can.

From a conservation standpoint, this is good news. Unnecessary lights are being turned off, water is being saved, and gasoline is being used more efficiently by people combining trips.

The bad news it that a recent article in our local paper stated that the water and sewer department is short on revenue due to significantly reduced water consumption by both companies and individuals. The article also suggested that rates may have to be raised to make up the difference. Considering that our rates were recently approved to be increased 40% over three years for both operational and infrastructure improvements, the timing of the suggestion could not be worse.

I am curious what others are paying for water and sewer. Our current rates are Water-$3.51/thousand gallon, Sewer- $6.88/1000, and tax of 6.6% on the total.

In the scheme of things, this is not a huge amount of money for safe and clean drinking water and regulated sewage service. Just thought I would mention this as a possible consequence of conservation techniques.

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A similar thing happened here. The city set water use restrictions due to drought, and people cut use enough to greatly lower the anticipated revenue. So the city, who has never heard of the concept of cutting back "changed the rules". Now our "base" is set by the average use for Jan./Feb./Mar. and THEN you get gouged should you use city water for yards. Luckily, we installed 1000-gallons of rain barrels so that we rarely use more than our base amount.


    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 12:54PM
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I'm not sure how the rate breaks down, but last month my bill was $30.82 for 4260 gals. (we had plenty of rain and 3000 gals. of rain barrels full). The month before was $73.37 for 12,750 gals. (temps. in the 100's and no rain for a month or more). We have a septic system, so no sewer fee. The only outdoor watering is for the house foundation and kitchen garden(about 500 sq. ft).

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:52AM
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That's just great, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:13PM
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It seems to me that its not so awful from a conservation point of view.
The higher rates make it even more likely that people will conserve (because they save more). And, those who waste a lot and don't conserve will end up paying a lot more.

I think the best system for encouraging conservation is the fee/bate system where rates are lowered for people with low usage, and raised for people with high usage -- that really puts the emphasis on conservation.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 7:30PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Hi. I just found this forum through the Going Green forum, so I came to take a look.

This thread caught my eye right away. Last January (2007) we had a 50% rate hike from the electric company. This year, it seems that so many people conserved, the electric company was complaining that they did not make enough in profits, and wanted another rate hike! Luckily, the DPUC said no, but it was a little scary there for awhile.

Rate hikes might indeed be good from a conservation point of view, but with a 50% rate hike in the last year and monthly electric bills of approximately $230, I don't need any further incentive to conserve!


    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 3:11PM
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Wait until your area experiences deregulation of electricity suppliers. Ummm, wasn't there some news recently about deregulation of banks and financial institutions?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 5:10PM
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I'm not trying to discourage conservation with this post. I think more people than ever are conserving resources, mostly out of economic need.

That said, rates (or unit costs) are how most consumers and all businesses compare everything in making decisions. Some examples: which car gets the highest mpg, how much should I charge my customer for two additional hours of my time, or how much does it cost per page to print with the new laser printer?

With regulated utilities, consumers do have some say over the ways in which the business is run. This can either be directly through large scale public outcry which forces local leaders to address the issues, or indirectly through regulatory commissions. A simple question that has to be looked at: have utilities reduced their costs in every possible way before passing on more rate increases?

It is logical to use rates as a starting point for comparison of utilities across the nation. According to a special on PBS tonight (10-16-08), the average cost of water per 1,000 gallons is $2.50. That's $1.01 less than our current water rate.

Keep in mind, this topic comes from a very frugal minded consumer who can still probably conserve another 3-5% on utility use. Once you have done everything possible to conserve, you are still at the mercy of the rates!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 11:00PM
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