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Talking points: Are you dreading your summer PG&E bills?

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PREPARE FOR AIR-CONDITIONER ARMAGEDDON: One of the most-discussed topics being bandied about The Bee’s site this week is Fresno getting dissed by our local monolithic for-profit energy provider. The conversation got kick-started by Bee reader George L. Strasser, who wrote a “Valley Voices” column Jan. 23 for the Opinion section:

As of this January, it costs $241.93 to use 1,000 kilowatt hours a month in Fresno. That much juice costs $121 in Las Vegas, $111.83 in Phoenix, and only $83 in Tucson. Are you surprised?

Bee reporter Tim Sheehan weighed in Monday with a front-page news story:

Contributing to the uproar are concerns over new-fangled meters that measure a home’s power use. The arrival of SmartMeters in the Valley last summer and fall coincided with sticker shock as many customers saw their utility bills jump. For example, Fresno resident Leo Margosian said the September bill for his condo was nearly four times higher than it was a year earlier.

One reader commented:

I have a hard time understanding why my PG&E bill was $375 last month. My heater was set to a mere 63 degrees and I am freezing in my own home. My gas usage was extremely low and nothing else has changed in the last 2 months of usage. I didn’t even put christmas lights on my house this year.

More talking points (ACLU vs. alleged anti-gay professor at Fresno City College, the demise of blogging, a really big Super Bowl mistake) after the jump.

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ACLU TAKES ON CITY COLLEGE PROF: Another high-comment story — no surprise — is today’s piece by Cyndee Fontana about the American Civil Liberties Union’s charge that a Fresno City College instructor is wrongly presenting religious-based and anti-gay views as fact in an introductory health class. Cyndee writes:

Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, said Bradley Lopez is teaching his personal views as science — neglecting the established facts that he should present to students. “Instead of teaching about abortion as an option for women and about the actual health implications, he’s teaching that abortion is murder based on the Bible.”

Gill charged that Lopez has presented homosexuality as a “biological misapplication of human sexuality” that can be treated with counseling or hormone supplements. He also used Bible passages as empirical evidence that life begins at conception to support his assertion that abortion is murder, she said … In a section on environmental health, Gill alleged, Lopez offered a biblical quote about the world ending in flames as “the real global warming we should be worried about.”

Let’s see, we’ve got abortion, anti-gay views, evolution, global warming … is there anything else we could add to this story to rile the Net masses? The 120-plus reader comments collected so far are, ahem, a fascinating window into the diverse thought processes of Central Valley residents.

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BLOGGING IS SO TWO-YEARS AGO: According to Rough Type, blogging is now the uncoolest thing you can do on the Internet:

It’s even uncooler than editing Wikipedia articles or having a Second Life avatar. In 2006, 28% of teens were blogging. Now, just three years later, the percentage has tumbled to 14%. Among twentysomethings, the percentage who write blogs has fallen from 24% to 15%. Writing comments on blogs is also down sharply among the young. It’s only geezers – those over 30 – who are doing more blogging than they used to.

What’s the new thing? Tweeting and social media, of course. Those darn blog entries were getting too long, after all. If you can’t say it in 140 characters, you might as well be “War and Peace.”

I’m just waiting for Twitter and Facebook to become passe. Up next: instant psychic neuron-burst transmittal, where all we have to do is grunt to get our point across.

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AND, FINALLY: All journalists make mistakes. We feel bad when we do. All I can say, though, is I’m glad I’m not on the sports staff of the Virginian-Pilot. The paper’s editor writes:

We blew it. Big time. Readers of Monday’s Sports front saw the score for the Super Bowl as Colts 31, Saints 17. The mistake was repeated on Page 9. It doesn’t get much worse. The whole country watches the Super Bowl, the whole country knows the score, and we get it wrong? Preposterous. Unbelievable. Embarrassing.

Here’s the “good” news: You can buy a remade copy of the page, suitable for framing, for 75 bucks.

Think I’ll go crank up the song “Schadenfreude” from “Avenue Q.”

Responses to "Talking points: Are you dreading your summer PG&E bills?"

S. Ryan says:

I am confused on how things work..

I have a few months over 1,000 kvwh or at least it appears that way to me yet no where near the price point you’re quoting..

http://twitpic.com/12a5u0

PG&E is the last of the greatest monopolies left in the U.S.

The a/c stays off this summer

Donald Munro says:

Rates went up Jan. 1. A lot.

S. Ryan says:

So I guess NEXT MONTH I will get sticker shock. How nice. Sometimes I am thankful I live in a small apartment where power needs are rather slim.

Donald Munro says:

You might be OK with a small apartment, depending on how much you’ve been cranking the heater. When I say the rates went up a lot, it’s a little more complicated than that. Everyone gets a baseline amount of relatively cheap power. Then, as you use more electricity above the baseline, the rates increase according to a tiered formula — and that’s where this latest increase could bite people in the Valley. Even though people who live in different parts of the state are allocated different baseline amounts, air conditioning sucks a lot of juice, so when you do shoot past the baseline — and critics of PG&E say the new rate structure is biased against people in hotter climates — it’s easier to rack up high bills. The bigger your house, the easier it is to use lots more power and shoot up way past the baseline.

I’m on the care program, have not used any heat this winter and were freezing in this house. I’ve had all doors and windows winterized thru low income project, I have dual windows, extra insulation in the attic, and I still don’t understand why I’m paying over 100.00 each month. I hang up my clothes I wash in the summer outside, I’ve only used my dryer in the winter where I have no choice, but I only do laundry once a week. I do dishes in the dishwasher once a week. I unplug everything I possibly can to save on energy, and it’s still high. It’s disgusting. I’m dreading this summer. I can’t stand the heat yet I always set the thermostat at 80 and use ceiling fans so I can only imagine what it’s going to be this summer it’s just awful. Were on a fixed income, and I don’t know what were going to do. All this is is greed for money. The workers at PG&E are paid very high. This I know for a fact because I know people who work there. This is an outrage to keep raising rates so high.

S. Ryan says:

We’re from Oregon so it’s far colder there. To be honest, not sure we’ve even used the heater. Apt seems to stay warm no matter what.

The problem though is summer as you mentioned. This apartment stays warm regardless so during the summer the AC is on about 24/7 although if it does actually go as high as people have projected — you can bet we’ll be finding alternatives or learning to sweat a bit at home I guess.

I would say in a normal business environment I would stop paying and go elsewhere while simultaneously filing a complaint with the BBB but I suppose with the power company you literally have no choice.

How frustrating.

Alan Dimario says:

I had a small reem sizzling water heater for underneath the sink that lasted 4 years. This one was simpler to install and heats water sooner and takes up much less room (each have been 2 half gal). It stays cooler underneath the sink (it is enclosed) than the reem.