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Nosey Neighbors Enabled By Green Snoops at Com Ed

Betsy Hart 21 September 2009 4 Comments

Apparently, I have been very bad.

At least that’s according to ComEd.  Recently, I thought I was opening a bill from the electric company.  Instead, I was being chastised.

As part of a pilot program from ComEd,  I was issued a “Home Electricity Report.”   The crux of the matter is the “Last Month Neighbor Comparison.”   The first line, a green bar about ¾ of an inch long, noted that on average my “efficient” and presumably oh-so-good neighbors, had used 764 KWh (Kilowatt- hours) of electricity.  A blue bar under it, about an inch and a quarter long, noted that those neighbors who were not being commended for their greenness but probably weren’t so bad either, had used an average 1254 KWh of electricity.

And then there was the Hart household.   Or, as the letter noted on the graph, “YOU” in large type and all in all caps.  In a noticeably dark gray bar a couple of miles long it was demonstrated that the Harts had  used something like 8 million Kwh of electricity last month.

Okay, maybe not that much but it was a lot.

What’s next – is Visa going to compare my bill to my neighbors’ and let me know I need to be a bit more frugal and get in line with the other families on the street?   Maybe Exxon Mobile can let me know how much gasoline I use in my minivan, compared to Bob on the corner with the Prius.   Is my picture going to be on the “perp” page of the local paper and announce that I’m wanted for recklessly using electricity?

By the way,  I’m not just overdoing it in relation to my neighbors, like Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation. “  ComEd told me I’ve even beat my own record, using 17% more electricity so far this year than at this point last year.

Yeah?  Well here’s the dirt on that.  Earlier this year my 13-year-old started the ritual of blow-drying her hair every morning.  That takes about two hours a day.  If ComEd wants to try taking that up with her – good luck to them.
ComEd based the comparison on 100 similar (modest sized) homes in my community.  But, did they consider doing the comparison on a per capita basis?

The bottom line is that  I like using energy and I pay for what I use.  I feel secure having a lot lights on in my house.    As a single mom to four young kids, that makes me feel safer in the evenings.  And anyway I find it’s cheery and welcoming to have a well lit home, and that makes me feel good.  You know what else?  I enjoy setting my air conditioning in my room to “stun” during hot summer month  so I can sleep.   Since we are here, I don’t recycle either.  (Talk about pollution and wastefully chewing up resources.)

betsybillJBest2But anyway, so what?  Yes, I suppose I have a large carbon footprint, though it’s nowhere near the size of Al Gore’s or Nancy Pelosi’s.    So?  Science  is amassing showing that if the earth is warming at all (and lately we’ve been through something of a cooling trend) these are natural cycles that have little if anything to do with mankind.   That makes sense to me.

We are not running out of cheap coal which produces most electricity.   In fact even my electric bill is still relatively low precisely because electricity is easy to produce.   And if leading environmentalists actually were concerned about a cleaner environment instead of a political agenda, we’d have nuclear powered electricity – like France does – which is squeaky clean.

So what, exactly, is the issue?  Especially since it is in no way in the economic interest of ComEd to get me to reduce my energy consumption, what’s behind this?

Here’s my guess:  ComEd has seen what the Obama Administration has done to everything from the banking industry, to automobile manufacturers, to what’s it’s trying to do to health care.  No doubt they feel that they will be ahead of the game if they start comparing my energy use to my  neighbors’ now, before the Obama Administration takes over in the form of “cap and trade” or other energy regulation and does it for them.

I feel like the recipient of a “Scarlet ‘A’” of old.  Only this one would be a green “E” for “Too Much Electricity Usage. “
Well, just wait ‘till I put up my Christmas lights.


Betsy Hart is a Regular Columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer.  Read more from Betsy at Betsy’s Blog


  • dale said:

    Ah the greenies! Ah those crazy Nazi’s……….
    It’s funny now, but it won’t be so funny when that bar graph comes with a fine for going over your alloted power limit.
    We are heading down a terrible road here. The free market and most of our personal freedoms are under attack.

  • fhmonberg said:

    Inspectors from the water department came and demanded to know why our water usage had dropped every year for the last six years, now measuring only one sixth of the highest year. We explained that we no longer had seven kids taking showers and washing dishes and clothes -we had to show them pictures of the kids who went off to college!

  • Chris said:

    I agree with most of what you say, except for the nuclear energy part.It is not “Squeaky Clean” as you put it. There is a matter of what to do with the waste. Not to mention all the protocol the companies have to follow in order to make sure it is safe. And, we actually do have a lot of Nukes in the area owned by Exelon (parent company of ComEd). Byron, Clinton, Braidwood, Morris, and about 10+ others in Northern IL.

    I also don’t agree with the perception of what could happen as a result of which President happens to occupy the White House. That is pretty much irrelevant in this case. The green agenda is being pushed more by companies these days for a few reasons. One is marketing. “Green” Companies make themselves look more responsible, nicer and more attractive to do business with. The other reason is for “Green” that is money. If you keep doing things the same way, it is hard to increase fees. People wonder why you need increased revenue when you haven’t changed anything, so your costs should stay the same. When you change stuff, in this case, the meters, they can go to the ICC and say “We need a rate increase because these meters are more expensive” It is all manipulative b.s.

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