Tuesday, May 26, 2009
When "Electric" Is Not A Metaphor
I don't know about you, but I am so inured to everything I consume being so heavily taxed that I don't even pay attention to the actual amounts of the taxes any more. It was, therefore, with great interest that I read a recent Letter to the Editor regarding the taxes on our electric bills. Our local power company is Appalachian Power -- which has recently requested (yet another) 13% rate increase. After reading the aforesaid letter and then analyzing my own electric bill, I believe that had the rate increase not been denied for the time being, there would exist the very real possibility of a revolt against these ridiculous taxes. And rightly so!
The gentleman who wrote the letter to the newspaper cited the following statistics from his December 2008 bill:
Actual usage - $102.92
Fuel factor - $60.39
OATT transmission services - $9.65
Retail transmission services - $3.38
Distribution services $50.28
Environmental and reliability cost recovery surcharge 2008 - $16.75
Virginia electric consumption tax - $3.97
Local consumers tax - $3.00
Total - $250.34
Yes, his bill was more than double his actual consumption of electricity. To me, this is the height of absurdity. Are not transmission and distribution essentially the same thing? Yet, we see three different charges for it on that bill. And what, pray, is a fuel factor tacked onto the customer's actual usage? Equally absurd are the two "consumption taxes," adding nearly $7.00 to the bill. We expect to pay for the electricity we consume, but where is the justification for being taxed twice for the necessity of consuming it?
These are the charges listed on my current bill:
Electricity supply service (actual usage?)/Generation service - $19.99
Fuel factor - $11.73
OATT transmission services - $1.87
Retail transmission services - $0.66
Distribution services - $16.56
Environmental & reliability cost recovery surcharge 2009 - $2.71
VA electric consumption tax - $0.80
Local consumers tax - $1.80
Total - $56.12
Now, granted, that is a reasonable electric bill; however, more than half of it is comprised of taxes.
There are those who would argue that electricity is a luxury and not a necessity. My argument against that is simple: let the electricity get disconnected at your house and see how fast your local building inspector steps in and condemns your home, and how equally quickly CPS will swoop in and remove your children until and unless you get the electricity turned back on. Electricity is an absolute necessity in this society.
The average person who is compelled to pay an electric bill each month needs every cent of income generated for living expenses. What is the excuse of these big companies, of which Appalachian is one? They're not scrambling for all that revenue to make the rent and utilities and buy groceries and pay minimum payments on the credit cards. It sounds suspiciously like greed is the bottom line. We consumers can grab only so much income and we have to stretch it as far as it will go. We need a break from big business and taxes. Now.