AUSenergy News Update 05/27/2015
May 27, 2015

In today’s AUSenergy News Update: Cheap emissions credits allow coal plants to pollute, Vampire power costs Americans billions each year and Utilities could create further divide between industrial and residential users.

Cheap emissions credits allow coal plants to pollute, worsening NJ air quality

Summary: Coal Plants in New Jersey have been turning off their pollution scrubbing equipment, because operating the equipment at $3,000-$7,000/ton is far pricier than just purchasing emissions credits at $130/ton. This in turn, is leading to growing amounts of ozone pollution and air quality issues throughout New Jersey.

AUS Comment: Well… one can certainly understand a business going with the bottom line; spending less on operations if possible. However, shame on you, New Jersey Coal Plant operators – for choosing dollars over pollution reduction efforts, harming the health of NJ citizens. And shame on you, EPA, for devising a system filled with loop holes that allow this to happen.

Vampire power costs Americans $19 billion in electricity every year

Summary: A new report from the National Resource Defense Council states that Americans are spending $19 billion a year in electricity costs from vampire appliances and electronics. That comes down to $165 per household on average, but could cost as much as $440 per household under top-tier rates. The annual power usage is equal to the output of 50 large power plants and an equal amount of emissions.

AUS Comment: High idle energy culprits live in the digital world, with the top two offenders being TV cable boxes and video game consoles. People are reluctant to turn these applications off because of the time it takes to install updates when restarted. And for those of us raised in the American culture of instant gratification, waiting never comes easy… Time for manufacturers and consumers to meet half way; design products with a standby mode that minimizes energy loss, and suggests ways for consumers to use these products in a new, more energy efficient manner. This could include timers, change in settings on devices and smart power strips. Combating energy waste is something all of us can do.

Utility plans would further divide industrial, residential users

Summary: Michigan’s two largest investor-owned utilities are seeking a change in the way electricity rates are set that would effectively raise rates on residential customers and decrease rates for industrial users.

AUS Comment: Current residential rates in Michigan are, “…on average 80 percent more than industrial rates.” We understand that because an industrial customer has not only greater usage, but a very steady demand, a cut in energy cost makes definite business sense. However, should the utilities plan move forward, MI residents now will bear the burden of subsidizing these lower energy costs for their industrial neighbors. This is a debate playing out all over the country, as states look for the fairest way to regulate rates. One solution may be time-of-day pricing that encourages off-peak energy use; lowering peak time demand and helping meet capacity needs. However, smart meters are needed to track usage and deploying them will take time; this is not an immediate solution.

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