I wonder just how much oil we could save by turning out some lights. Flying
into a city airport in the wee hours I see thousands of street lights, but
don't see any traffic. Entire industrial parks are well lit but no one
working. Businesses have signs lit on their closed stores and no on on the
streets to read them. Just seems plain silly.
Oddly, we could probably save a bundle of oil and or coal but it may cost us
more for less light. A couple of years ago I went to the PUC web site to
compare electricity charges by different companies that produce electricity.
I was shocked to find that home owners pay about double the price that big
users use. IIRC some where around 7500- 10,000 kwh of usage per month the
price of electricity came in at 5 cents per kwh. I pay about 10 cents per
I am sure there is some law against it but why couldn't a whole neighborhood
be a single customer/customer and each home owner pay for his usage of that
total billed to the neighborhood.
It is the notion of municipal retail utility distribution. Where the city
manages the 'natural monopoly' portion of electric and/or gas distribution.
I've lived in a town with such a system. It was just fine, and less
expensive than one would expect. They now are installing some of the
fastest residential and business broadband services in the country, at
aggressively low prices, after waiting for the 'big boys' to get off their
backsides for years. That REALLY gets the lobbyists and propagandists
As to whether there are laws against it, it differs in every area. However,
laws can be changed.
I am sure that you could if you were willing to build out the
distribution network for the community and keep it maintained and do
all the individual billing and collections, with the inevitable bad
debt but you have to keep supplying them anyhow, and absorb the costs
during low usage periods when the overhead charge you apply doesn't
actually cover the overhead required to maintain sufficient capacity
to serve everyone's needs during the peak usage periods..... (any idea
what the cost is when a single neighborhhood step-down transformer
blows and needs replaced on an emergency basis while it is 10 below
The electrical company is responsable for maintaining lines. The company
that maintains the lines is not the one that I buy electricity from. I live
in Houston and buy my electricity from a company in Dallas.
with the inevitable bad debt but you have to keep supplying them anyhow, and
absorb the costs
If the HOA took care of the billing it could cut the power off to the family
that does not pay the bill. I suspect that the home owners in my small
subdivision could save at least $225,000.00 per year. 3 years ago a family
was ecvicted from their home and their home repaired and sold. They refused
to pay the HOA anual bill of $250.00. I really do not think there would be
problem with non payment.
That will never happen in Houston. Transformers will blow but still the
electric company will be responsible for the repair.
Texas is different from most of the country in that they have separated
generation from infrastructure maintenance. Presumably there is some
arrangement whereby the Local Wires Companies are paid by the Retail
Electric Providers. You may not buy electricity from them but one way or
another you're paying for their services.
One reason that large consumers get a discount is that the distribution
infrastructure on the customer's campus is the customer's responsibility,
not the power company's. In residential use the power company (in Texas
the Local Wires Company) is responsible for everything up to the connector
on the customer side of the meter.
If the home owners' association wanted to take care of the infrastructure
the same way that GM does in their plants then I'm sure the power company
would give them the same kind of discount. In effect they'd be becoming
their own Local Wires Company for their neighborhood.
Personally I would not want to live in any community where the home owners
association was responsible for keeping the power going.
If the applicable statutes allowed it. Do they really want the lawsuit when
the baby freezes to death because they cut the power off when it was 30
Fascinating. So the home owners association actually owns the property. I
would not want to live anywhere that I was in the position of renting
property that I had paid for. I'm really kind of disappointed in
Texans--there was a time when anything that high-handed would have gotten
Then why would they want to give you a discount?
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
I suspect that most homeowners in the entire U S of A are already in that
situation. I know I am. Today, I received my annual "rent" bill from the county.
They call it "real estate tax", but if I don't pay it, I can be evicted.
I don't see much _effective_ difference between that and paying rent to a
landlord except that the landlord would have more legal difficulty evicting me
from his property than the county would have evicting me from my own property.
Wichita, KS USA
Sorry I just can't resist. About twenty years ago I was the !@#$%^&*
who raised electric rates. Done the expert witness thing etc. Two
1-In most NA electrical systems the energy used for street lights
comes from a hydro, coal or nuclear unit. Rarely do we need to run an
oil fired unit to cover early AM load. Sorry we can't stop buying Mid
East oil for that use.
2-Yes, there is a stark difference in price from small customers to
medium and large ones. The larger customers buy their electricity at
higher voltages and the costs of those pole mounted transformers,
distribution wires, etc. don't exist. Second, they tend to buy a
higher percentage during those lower cost back hours. Third, it costs
just slightly more to read a meter and bill a large customer so there
can be a volume difference. Fourth, customer service costs are
generally lower so there can be a volume discount, big customers don't
call in nearly as often. Fifth, problems with no pay and slow pay are
higher with residential and small commercial customers so that is
factored into the rates. And it goes on.
The PUC is supposed to examine in detail whether a class of customers
is paying more or less than their "fair share". The large customers
have their own lawyers in the process and residential customers are
usually well represented by public advocates (well funded also usually
from your electric bill). The customers that tend to get "oppressed"
are the small commercial ones. That's why you want to avoid a
separate meter for your shop.
Yes a whole neighborhood can buy in bulk under some conditions. For
example many large apartment/condo buildings in NYC do just that.
However the building (neighborhood) then has to provide individual
billing, transfomers, meters etc. If its provided by the landlord
there is no savings. Otherwise there are some but offset by costs.
Final point-In states where you can buy your own energy (like TX) big
customers are doing relatively well, but the costs of marketing to and
serving small customers chews up a lot of the savings. Unfortunately
for TX they bet on many new natural gas generating units and their
fuel costs have doubled in the last two years raising costs on the
"free market" substantially.
Yup, I live in Texas. I just wish that the power companies would let us buy
electricity when we needed it. During peak periods the price world be more
expansive and during the winter, weekends, and night hours the price would
be cheaper. I was part of a pilot program in 1996-1997 that my local
electricity company tried out. My electric bill was less than $1,077.00 for
that whole that year. My electric bill the following year after the program
was terminated went up to $1,339.00 with only a 5% increase of usage.
That said, my electric rates last year were basically the same as they were
OK maybe not oil, but we could burn less coal. There is still cost
associated with the lighting and if it is not needed, someone, someplace,
has to save money, pollute less or otherwise come out ahead.
Consider joining or contributing to the International Dark Sky Association"
http://www.darksky.org/ or, better yet, bringing their recommendations and
your concerns to the attention of the local/state government officials who
oversee public lighting.
These are exactly the problems they formed to combat and they have achieved
some success in some states and localities. Yes, outdoor lighting can be
designed to shine only in controlled directions (downward). In fact, its
more efficient (saves money) that way.
In a recent vacation to Kona Hawaii, I was struck by the lack of light in
the evenings. It didn't take long to figure out that the whole island has a
light restriction. The Keck Observatory. It really was nice, compared to
the virtual daylight of LA.
Palomar,North of San Diego also has light restrictions, but not nearly the
scale of the big island.
On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 12:18:43 -0500, TeamCasa wrote:
The light restrictions on the big island are certainly true. However,
both Kona and Hilo still send a large quantity of light upwards. I've
conducted astronomical observations several times a year over the past few
years on the summit of Mauna Kea, and can vouch that both Kona and Hilo
are quite bright at night. They certainly are not as bright as other
cities of the same size that don't have light restrictions. But it is
becoming a problem at the observatory. Waimea and Honokaa are also quite
visible from the summit.
What people seem to not understand is that lighting the sky does not
provide added ground level security and also wastes energy. Using smartly
designed lights that direct all of their light downward can make the
street level considerably brighter and safer, while significantly reducing
sky brightness and energy usage. Unfortunately, these light fixtures are
generally more expensive up front, which seems to trump their long term
energy efficiency benefits in most consumers minds.
Chad's right. I'm also an amateur astronomer and can vouch for better
lighting. See my post elsewhere in thsi thread for information on the
International Dark-Sky Assocoation.
The price of sensible lighting fixtures is coming down, and the payback time
lessened considerably. A number of communities nationwide and around the
world have adopted reasonable lighting ordinances, but the problem is
growing. As long as we insist on providing circus lighting for our homes and
businesses it won't be solved.
Boy, I wish the municiple sheds across the street would jump on the
sensible lighting wagon... directly out my window, there are six
high-power arc-sodium floodlights to illuminate pole sheds with no one
in them. They run year-round, and all the sheds are there for is to
hold snowplows. The entire block is bright enough to read by day and
I love the change of seasons. The occasional gray day, after weeks of
bright sunlight. That crispness, after months of heat. The first snowflakes.
The days get shorter.
The first green buds that appear.
The days that grow longer...
Sky & Telescope magazine, the Fine Woodworking of that hobby, estimates that
more than half the people in the world, and 2/3 of those in the United
States, cannot see the Milky Way. During the recent blackout in New York,
people were calling the police to report a strange huge cloud over the city.
I have a famous poster of the United States (there's one of Europe also) at
night, taken by satellites, that shows the entire country lit by
unrestricted lighting. It's easy to pick out your own home town. The
question is, why are they visible from space? Aren't lights supposed to
illuminate the ground?
The loss of the night sky is not only saddening, it is unnecessary. As an
amateur astronomer I know that a high percentage of our lighting is
misdirected, and that proper shielding would not only preserve the sky
but--more importantly for most people--save huge amounts of money. San Diego
changed to a more sophisticated lighting some years ago and saved the
taxpayers about $300,000.
And of course we all know the effect of bright lighting in reducing crime?
The International Dark-Sky Association (http://www.darksky.org /) has drafted
sensible lighting ordinances that would both preserve the night sky AND our
security and safety. Rush Limbaugh has, of course, labeled them a bunch of
left-wing nuts. He's wrong--their purpose is simply as stated in the first
sentence of this paragraph.
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