KSL Channel 5 reports that a number of Utah cities will be contracting with a company to calculate and send their residents a letter grade on energy usage as a means to "encourage" people to cut back on energy usage. And they propose to charge people 15 cents per month -- whether or not the people request the assessment. The Provo Daily Herald published a more detailed story on August 22nd.
The grading system comes from a Lehi company called Enerlyte, which anticipates charging around 15 cents per household per month for the system. The city of Payson has already signed up and will start sending out the grades in the next couple of weeks; Lehi, Brigham City, and Eagle Mountain are in talks with Enerlyte about implementing the grading systems in their cities. The three objectives of the program are to inform, motivate, and educate.
Lehi City Administrator Jamie Davidson says the 15 cents per household will be well worth it if the program gets people to start conserving during the peak power times of the day. That's when the city spends a lot of money to buy power on the open market.
If Jamie Davidson thinks it's so important, he can hire a nanny at his own expense to provide the assessment. Davidson could also retain Enerlyte to offer the service. But what is inappropriate is for Davidson to presume that everyone wants the assessment -- and to involuntarily impose a 15 cents monthly charge on each household for the assessment. I do not recall that the public was asked for their opinion of this measure at the ballot box.
You may think that 15 cents per month is nominal. But this is how intrusive and invasive behavior by government begins -- with "nominal" and "reasonable" fees. You let the camel poke its nose into the tent, and the next thing you know, you're up to your knees in camel dung. Residents of unincorporated parts of Salt Lake County failed to keep this principle in mind, and one day they woke up to separate police service fees IN ADDITION to property taxes.
Most commenters to the KSL story are also hostile to the idea. Two noteworthy comments:
van4sale 1:12pm - Mon Aug 23rd, 2010
The ONLY relationship between a power company and myself that I want is I use power and they send me a bill. As long as I keep paying the bill, and you keep providing power (AND improve your service so you can KEEP providing MORE power) then that is all we should talk about. Advising me on usage? You're not my mother and I don't give a
Bunkster 1:14pm - Mon Aug 23rd, 2010
I get my power bill from Rocky Mountain Power, not from the city in which I live. How will they know what my power usage is?
Here's another one... what is it with this 'expensive power during peak periods' thing? My meter simply reads how much power we use and then I get charged for the total used for the month. I mean I run my clothes dryer at night so it doesn't heat up the house too bad. We do almost 100% of our summer cooking on the grill in a dutch oven instead of the indoor oven for the same reason. Seems to me that RMP would want to sell MORE power and in turn bring in more revenue. You don't hear the beer companies asking us to drink less during the peak summer season...
Lastly - this just sounds like another tax to me. It's only 15 cents, yes, but I'm tired of getting nickeled and dimed to death. Government: STAY OUT OF MY POCKET BOOK!
At the very least, make the assessment -- and the 15 cents fee -- voluntary. If people want it, they will request it. By the way, how did Enerlyte get picked as the vendor of preference? Was there competitive bidding?