Visit on Facebook Visit on Linked In Follow on Twitter


Normally, I Just Pay the Electric Bill…

     I hauled out my pen to write the check to the electric company. The amount due on page one of my six-page bill was eighty-four dollars for four hundred and some odd “kWh’s.” That would be kilowatt hours… But hey! Wait a minute! What’s all this on the second page?

     Forty-seven lines – I kid you not, forty-seven lines – of percentages and rates and how many days out of how many days and baselines and allowances and charges and totals and components and –

     Normally, I just pay the bill. There’s not much choice if you want your blow dryer to work next time you turn it on. But heck, I had a couple of days off and I’d been wondering about the new energy-saving rate structure…

     Forty-seven lines! Whew! I got my trusty five dollar solar-powered calculator and settled into a comfy chair on the patio with a cool iced tea. I went straight to page two and tackled the first line.

     “Baseline allowance 335 kWh.” Okay. I understand baseline allowance – altho’ I’d much rather be watching the Padres on the base lines about now. Anyhow, you prob’ly know, when you’re talkin’ electricity rates, “baseline” has something to do with how much electricity you can use before they get to raise the price on you.

     Good thing they don’t do that with gas for the car – whew! I’d haf’ta stop driving to work and take a cab.

     The baseline rate was a dollar sign with a decimal point followed by so many numbers I had to count them. Strangely enough, I’ve always thought U. S. currency only went to two decimal points. The rates on this bill went to five. If I’d only used one kilowatt hour last month, they sure would’ve had a hard time giving me change.

     Just when I thought I had the baseline straight, I noticed it was for “24/ 29 Days.” So I only had part of the baseline covered. What about the other five days?

     I skipped down the page, looking for them. I found 4 of 29 days and 20 of 29 days and 10 of 29 days and 14 of 29 days and deep in the midst of all of those, I actually found one line with 5 of 29 days. I ran into the house and swapped my iced tea for a double martini.

     I gave up on the baseline allowance thing. Moved on to the “Electric Energy Charge” thing. Which turned out to be more of the same. ’Cept this time the rate was for 14 of 29 days.

     No way. I threw my calculator away and moved on down to a cluster of lines at the bottom of the page. At least they looked normal. The numbers had only two decimal points and the words were regular words like Energy, Transmission, Distribution… Well, some of them were regular. For the rest, I figured I’d better follow the printed advice: “Please see definitions on back of bill.”

     I turned the page over and what to my wondering delight did appear, but a page full of electric blue headings followed by thousands of words in miniature pale gray print. The blue headings were fairly easy to read. “Nuclear Decommissioning,” “Direct Access Franchise Fee Surcharge,” “Competition Transition Charge,” and sixteen more terms that every utility bill payer should be intimately familiar with. The definitions in miniature gray print were one indecipherable blur, so without pause, I went off in search of more reading equipment.

     The magnifying glass was in the junk drawer. With it firmly in hand, I headed back to the patio, but by now the sun had gone down and it was too dark to see, so I neatly folded the electric bill, drained the double martini and hurried inside for my checkbook.

     Normally I just pay the electric bill. Now I know why. Saves a whole lot of energy.

Back to Smile-breaks


© Copyright 2015 Sheila Buska All Rights Reserved
Site Design & Maintenance by Dreamwirkz Web Designs, Inc.