Ever wonder what you’re paying for every month when you get your bill? There are basically four parts of your electric bill.
1. The Commodity used to make the electricity (Blue). The commodity – natural gas, coal, or oil – that is used in power plants to make your electricity. This is by far the biggest part of your bill, and here in Massachusetts, where we are at the end of the energy pipeline, we are at the mercy of global energy prices. See in the graph how the blue part, the Commodity, is volatile? In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, knocking out natural gas pipelines, the price of natural gas shot up, and so did our electricity rates. Since we don’t have any coal, oil, or natural gas in Massachusetts, we have two ways we can reduce that blue part. We can ramp up energy efficiency and develop more homegrown renewable energy like solar and wind. Both of these efforts have been priorities of the Patrick-Murray Administration, and this year, for the first time, Massachusetts is #1 in the country in energy efficiency beating out California.
2. The Distribution charge (Purple): This is what it costs for your electric company to deliver the electricity to your house – the wires, substations, repair trucks, etc. This is the only portion of your bill that the state directly regulates. The Department of Public Utilities closely regulates the utilities and makes sure that what it charges for this portion is fair and reasonable. This is also the portion of the bill in which there are charges to invest in the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. For every dollar that is invested in all these programs, we get two dollars in savings! And remember, these are how we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels that come from outside of Massachusetts. Notice that the graph shows that this part of the bill has been relatively stable in the last decade – even with new energy efficiency and renewable investments.
3. Transmission charge (Green): This portion of the bill pays for the big interstate transmission wires that make up the backbone of the electric grid. This is regulated by the federal government.
4. Transition charge (Red): This is a leftover charge from when the state’s electricity system was restructured in the late 1990’s. This charge will soon disappear.
Dam Ice posted on Mar 12
You may have noticed many “falling ice” signs around town. Personally, I recently counted five of them on my way to the coffee shop. The icicles and falling ice are actually caused by ice dams, and the Building Science Corporation (BSC) and Massachusetts Department of …Continue Reading Dam Ice
Fish Need Clean Energy, Too posted on Feb 18
Running a fish farm is an intense operation, one that requires a lot of labor and a large amount of energy. Currently, the McLaughlin Hatchery uses a significant amount of oil to heat its facility. The facility is going to replace its oil furnace with a renewable energy heating system, a new high efficiency wood pellet boiler and pellet storage silo that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 92 percent, save an estimated $11,432 annually, and reduce annual oil use by more than 5,000 gallons.
Wood Pellets are the New Oil for Regional Schools Reducing Fuel Costs posted on Feb 12
Did you know that it is possible to heat buildings in the northeast using wood biomass, a renewable energy fuel? With nearly one-third of total energy costs going toward heating our buildings, it is no wonder that Massachusetts school districts are searching for cheaper and …Continue Reading Wood Pellets are the New Oil for Regional Schools Reducing Fuel Costs