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Utility bill shock

Original post made by Margaret on Jan 1, 2007

We are seniors on fixed income and in a state of shock over the largest utility bill we have every had in almost forty years here. It is $50 higher than in November!! We installed a new energy efficient furnace this fall, turned down the water heater to 120 degrees, run the washing machine only a few times a week, and do not have a gas range. Our electric bill has zoomed, gas usage not much higher than last month but the gas cost just soared. Are we the only ones? Is this the result of Enron pay off? Looks like we'll have to cut back someplace - again.

Comments (30)

Posted by Mike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 2, 2007 at 3:44 pm

At least Palo Alto is lucky to have all its utilities organized by the city. Our cousins lived in Saratoga and it was a mess. Instead of getting one bill for all the utilities the got four each with capable of having fluctuating rates! There's Geen Valley Disposal Co. handling garbage... then there's PG&E handling gas and electricity... and some other private company supplying water as well. Thankfully Palo Alto Utilities only serve Palo Alto so their response and repair times tend to be faster and we only have to call one phone number regarding garbage, gas, water, and electricity.

Regarding your bill... have you switched to energy saving fluorescent bulbs? Is the house insulated well? Plus it's been awfully cold this winter with temps dipping into the 30's and highs of 50's in an entire week.

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:44 pm

How about selling PAU for $800M-$1B?

Use the rvenue to retrofit every PA home with solar, with enough left over to feed the general fund.

PA ends up selling power back to the grid - with a split % to consumers.

Posted by Sue Dremann, a resident of University South
on Jan 3, 2007 at 11:02 am

I'm working on a story for the Weekly about the high utility bills. Would you or anyone you know be willing to talk to me? I'm particularly interested in talking with seniors.

Please contact me at or call me at 326-8210, ext. 206.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 3, 2007 at 2:40 pm


Your idea is interesting to me.

A few questions:

1. Would some private company actually pay $800M - 1B for our utilities?

2. If a buyer is found (for that amount), wouldn't it just jack up rates in order to derive a profit? In other words, wouldn't we actually be taxing ourselves in order to do all the goodies you describe? If so, why not just tax ourselves directly (keeping our utilities) and do all the good things?

3. Is a major solar retrofit for PA a smart idea? I don't know. Solar panels are not very efficient. Insulation makes sense, but that is already happening, as new homes replace old homes.

4. Bottom line: Does it pencil out, in terms of dollars?

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Knock off the Green crap and go to time of day metering so you benefit from defering electricity use away from peaks. Fire all the Greenies and put REAL engineers in charge to pursue cogeneration and other rational energy conservation instead of chichi.

Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Welcome to the ugly side of Proposition 13, circa 1978

On the one hand, one only can sympathize with a senior resident on a fixed income trying to cover a higher utiltiies expense.

On the other hand, since Proposition 13, the costs of running this community have gone up at a much faster pace than have the revenues from property taxes and other sources that are paid to fund local programs, services and infrastructures. Proposition 13 made it exremely difficult to generate local taxes for city, not school purposes, and that is where things are with us right now.

We finally are starting to see the consquences, many years later, for the deferred maintenance, inability to cut back further on core services that support the city and those who live and work here. Money was not there to do those things sustainably, and now that they are in major need of repair and replacement, the funding has to come from somewhere, like what we pay for utilities.

The chickens are coming home to roost. Local California cities such as ours are unable to generate sufficient revenues via means found elsewhere in the country, including reasonable, accountable adjustments to property taxes. Therefore to pay for things needed to run the city, fees and charges for usage are going up and likely will continue to do so. How else can they be paid for?

And get ready for some major service cutbacks in town. Things that make this place special face meat axe cutbacks, because there is not sufficient revenue coming in to sustain them. It's coming, it's already started.

Maybe that's not all bad. You pay for what you use. Certainly those who are paying pre-Proposition 13 level property taxes have not been paying for what they get in the way of community services and benefits for many years: that is paid for by people who have moved here more recently and have annual property tax bills in 5 figures while others nearby pay a few hundred a year for comparable properties. There's a complaint there waiting to be voiced.

Don't get me wrong, those who cannot afford to pay market rates should have mechanisms available to them to help them pay for their essential utility bills. And such programs are in place.

But, higher utility prices are part of a seismic shift, the last one being a generation ago when Proposition 13 passed. This emerging shift will include fewer community services and resources, those that are provided will be charged at close to market rates (as for-profit entities like PG&E do), more and more fees will be charged for things that used to be absorbed by the City, and very little new or significant will be possible due to lack of money. A police station? Major library renovation? Finish the underground utility project this century? Don't bet on it.

There is constant criticism, and rightly so, about the federal government borrowing excessive amounts of money that the next generation will be saddled with paying for. That is exactly what we are now seeing with Proposition 13's long term consequences TODAY!

Ours are not an uber-rich household, we have college age children and a hefty mortgage. We live comfortably, not extravagantly, and we have elderly parents on fixed incomes that get a great deal of time and support from us to help them in their later years. We don't like having to pay more for something that we need, and it means we have to cut back somewhere else. So this is not coming from the Donald Trump family.

But, we are willing to pay for what we get, and I think it only is fair to expect others to do the same. The Propostion 13 intiative had some valid reasons for passing when it did--taxation was out of control. But it went too far, and it appears to be impossible to put that genie back in its bottle. I think many people who are still paying only Proposition 13 level property taxes need to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if, after all those years of paying thousands of dollars less in property taxes than their neighbors, they now are entitled to have someone else cover their usage of utilties. For most of them, I think the honest answer is no, and for those for whom the answer is a legitimate yes, there are tools in place to help you.

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 9:05 pm

A good point was raised above. There are no incentives here for using electricity at non-peak times. In the UK there is what is called "Economy 7" which means that for those who wish it they can have a special meter which runs from the hours of midnight to 7.00 am. During this time electricity is much cheaper, by a lot. Storage heaters are very popular which store up heat during the night and let out heat during the day. Washing machines, dishwashers, etc. are on a delay and can be timed to start at any time so that they will finish before 7.00 a.m. Here we get asked to delay using appliances later in the day but there is no incentive. Maybe cheaper power would be an incentive.

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 11:25 pm

John, I've heard the $800M figure bandied about. I'm not sure what the earnings multiplier is in the power industry, but $800M seems a resonable amount for a utility that serves 25,000+ households.

Your query about whether a buyer would jack up rates to pay for the purchase is a good one. Frankly, that's a possibility, but pre-purchase contracts could control this, providing a grace period for citizens.

If we tax outselves, and use the $$$ to deploy universal solar, why would we want to keep the utility.

Don't get me wrong, I think PAU is an excellent organization, and generally well run. It does a fine job in serving citizens. That said, there is very little forward contract advantage left, certainly less than we had some years ago. The proof in this is how much more (by quite a bit) we are paying for untilities these days. What are the 36,000 projected senior citizens (in 2030, out of just over projected 80,000+ population) going to do if we don't get very, very creative in dealing with the coming utility cost crisis? We need to consider new ideas now.

Maybe selling PAU isn't a good idea, but we need to spark a conversation around this issue, and find ways to deal with a problem that will not go away.

Solar panel technology is pretty solid. We could, as you suggest, insulate more homes with the windfall from a PAU sale. In fact, we could generate $8-10M per year for the General Fund if we put half the sale price in the bank, using the rest for retrofit and other conservation efforts.

I also like the idea of metered peak hour use. We need to create incentives for use during off peak times. Does it all pencil out? I don't know. As stated above, maybe it's an idea that won't fly, but we need to start the conversation somewhere. I say let's look at this, and other ideas, so that we can head off a crisis that's haeding right toward us.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 4, 2007 at 10:11 am


We will still need utility services. Solar is not a baseload supply of electical (the sun does not shine at night). One of the main benefits of solar is that it produces during some periods of peak demand (daytime), and it can offset other electrical generation. However, this 'saved' electricity must then be used at night. All of this balancing requires a grid.

We will always need baseload electrical generation. This includes hydro, coal, gas, nuclear. We will need some form of utility department (private or public) to buy and deliver this external electricity.

I like solar, but I think it needs improved efficiency. Recent advances in nanotechnology may improve things quite a bit. Passive solar design works (I have done it), but most new homes don't incorporate it.

Your point about an increasing number of seniors is valid, to a point. However, many of these people will be financially sound, so any 'lifeline' utility subsidies should be based on income/assets, not age.

Posted by whiners :-), a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2007 at 1:30 pm

I've moved away from Palo Alto but I look back affectionately at Palo Alto's delightfully low electric rates. I'm a bit bemused that so few of you Palo Altans realize just how cheap your electricity is compared to the "real world" of pg&e. Assuming that the schedule on the current rate web page is up to date, the top rate for PA electricity is $.13/kWh starting at 600kWh. Compare to pg&e where you would be paying more like $.33/kWh.

On the other hand, it looks like pg&e gas rates are currently nominally less expensive than Palo Alto rates. Baseline PA looks to be $1.3332/therm but pg&e is about $1.17/therm.

The thing that amazes me is that electricity is sooo cheap in Palo Alto that it can be a lot cheaper to switch to using an electric air source heat pump for heating and only use the gas furnace when the temp drops below freezing when the the heat pump becomes inefficient.

Let's say you have a pretty efficient furnace that is 83% efficient (you could get that up to about 95% if you were willing to pay up for a condensing furnace but be prepared to expend some $$$). At PA base gas rates, you get 75007 btu/$ * 83% = 62256 btu/$.

Compare to a fairly efficient air source heat pump with a COP of 3.3. We have 3412 btu/kWh * 1kWh/.1305 * 3.3COP = 86280btu/$ with an efficient heat pump.

That means you potentially get 86280/62256 = 38% more heat per $ using an electric heat pump rather than gas in Palo Alto. And you get air conditioning hooked up to boot.

Posted by whiners :-), a resident of another community
on Jan 4, 2007 at 1:41 pm

To Margaret who started this thread. If you're still reading, post the details of your utility bill (including the breakdown show the baseline & non-baseline rate charged per kWh and per therm) and I'll give you so pointers on how you can reduce your bill.

BTW, I assume that you've already reduced your garbage service to the 30 gallon "mini-can". This is one of the best bargins that PA offers.

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 3:30 pm

John, You have non argument from me re: the fact that we would still need some form of utility service is PAU was sold. Further, you're right about the increased eficiencies of solar from nanotech, etc.

What I'm trying to get at here is that Palo Alto has a base asset (PAU) that for the most part will not be capable of delivering power and other services that are *affordable* by most seniors, and some others.

We need to engage an exercise to see if the numbvers make sense; if they don't, then on to another exercise, with the primary takeaway being we have to get busy and make something happen.

Your assumption that most seniors will for the most part be able to afford forward power prices is something I question. Currently, about 15% of PA households survive on $40K or less, annually. A considerable % of those are seniors.

I suggest a forward analysis of power cost to the consumer. This would open some eyes. PA could be feeding back to the grid. Why aren't we doing that? PA could be working with neighboring municipalities to create utility efficiencies. Why aren't we doing that?

What I'm looking for is some new thinking, new ideas, and effective execution toward the goal of *decreasing* the cost of utilities to users. Why aren't we talking about that? Again, a sale of PAU may not be a good idea; maybe it is. Maybe some permutation of a PAU asset rollup would work. I don't know. Why aren't we looking into this?

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm


The cost of power is going up, no matter what. Once nuclear power (too cheap to meter) was blocked by the greenies it was a no brainer. The chickens have come home to roost....

Given that basic fact, the question is: What is the best approach, going forward? You have already heard some good approaches (peak pricing, heat pumps, insulation...). There are others, including solar (perhaps).

I am still interested in your idea of selling our utility for about $1B. I like the idea of reverse feed into the grid. Local and diversified power production is a very appealing concept. The devil is in the details (efficiencies, reliability, cost, pricing for feedback, grid charges, etc.).

The HUGE political problem is that Palo Alto, with $1B at its disposal, will find all sorts of ways to spend it, other than solely on the energy problem. It has not shown itself to be responsible for basic infrastructure as is, so what makes you think it will be more responsible in the future?

I also think we should consider a couple of local (Bay Area) nuclear power plants to provide baseload (zero CO2 emmisions and independent of world fossil fuel supplies).

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 4, 2007 at 10:03 pm


Past behavior is not a 100% reliable predictor of current behavior. My sense is that Palo Alto's policy makers are beginning to adapt to changing times, and not taking the future for granted. This is a good thing.

Of course, there's no guarantee that revenue derived from a PAU sale would be spent wisely, but the odds of the latter happening are certainly far better than even two years ago.

Since you brought up political problems, I don't think that building nuclear in the Bay Area will fly anytime soon. :)

Posted by An Involuntary Palo Altan, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 4, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Alright, I give up. Why would anyone pay 800M-1B for the Palo Alto Utilities? What is the pricing model for determining the value of a non-profit organization with essentially no assets? As far as I can tell, the assets consist of some energy and water supply contracts, the terminal portions of supply systems, some repair equipment, vehicles, office supplies, and the value of the going concern. Any purchaser of this asset set is going to have to figure out how to make at least a 50M/year profit to justify a billion dollar price tag. Whose hide is this profit going to come out of? Then again, what organization would even consider buying a mixture of utilities? I can't think of one.

I find my self in agreement with Boomer's comments. I have little sympathy for Palo Alto's home owning seniors who have been mollycoddled by Prop 13. I prefer to provide charity to the needy, not people sitting on a million dollars of real estate. If you can't handle the financial shock of an extra $50 in your utility bill, you probably can't afford to live here. Please cash out and move for the sake of your own sanity. By the way, I thought Palo Alto utilities offered a 20% rate discount for couple making less than 40K. Of course, if you really need the 50 bucks, babysitting is always an option.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2007 at 9:24 am

Don't forget the City Council approved the payment of $22 Million by the Palo Alto Utility Department to settle the Enron case. Our Utility Department lost a big chunk of their reserve in that extremely bad deal, and Council is now trying to make that money back up by voting to increase our utility rates. So Enron benefited, and now we have to pay!!!! Expect further increases in the future.

One of the big problems is the City Council votes to increase utility rates in July when nobody is watching. I just happened to be at the City Council meeting last July and nobody stepped up to complain. Watch out, they will probably do the same thing again this year. The only way to object to the City's increased rates is to get organized and have plenty of speakers on hand to object the night the Council votes to increase our Utility rates.

Posted by A Boomer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2007 at 11:39 am


Help me understand what you expect to happen if "plenty of speakers" object to increases in utility rates.

If the costs to acquire gas, electricity and water go up, how is it to be paid for, other than by adjusting rates to reflect the costs? How do you propose we "make up the difference" between what it costs and what rate payers pay if the rates are less than what it costs to provide them?

How are we supposed to pay for maintaining, upgrading and replacing obsolete and aging utility infrastructure if our rates are not set in order to fund such activities? If we don't keep those operations up to date, the inefficiencies that result will become higher costs to rate payers later on.

By and large, the utility costs to people in Palo Alto are still lower than what communities using PG&E pay, over time. Look at the article in the January 5 Weekly that explains how the Utilities acquire power and water for us, and spread the costs over time. And by the way, be glad that they don't have to answer an additional question PG&E has to ask, "How do we maintain our stock value and dividend to our shareholders?"

Don't use the Enron argument as the reason for rates going up. That's an easy scapegoat to invoke, but the rates have been adjusted primarliy because our costs and cost structure have gone up.

You can question the Enron decision all you want, different people have opinions on whether it was a good or bad decision. But it is a settled matter now, and we have to account for its impact on reserves as rates are established. To say "don't adjust rates, because the City should not have made the settlement decision that it did" is Monday morning quarterbacking, and we have to deal with things where they are now, not where they might have been a couple of years back if something else had been done around Enron. It is at most only a small part of the explanation for the current rate adjustments anyway.

As much as I like living in Palo Alto, I find my patience wearing thin when I hear about people objecting to paying a fair price for things that have to be done if we are going to keep the place operating. There are many many things in Palo Alto that historically people have paid pennies on the dollar of what they cost to provide, and the City's ability to absorb many of these costs is quickly declining. If our community values these things, they have to be prepared a price closer to what they actually cost, or they will go away, since they are unaffordable otherwise.

For people don't like having to pay for what it takes to keep Palo Alto going, they can move to a place that charges what they are willing to pay, and get the environment that comes with living in such a place instead.

I don't like paying more for my heating bill either, and I am not in a dot-com millionaire family. For us, higher costs in one place mean doing something less some place else. But I am not going to stand in front of City Council and complain that my utility rates are too high because in the past I am used to paying less, and that I expect to continue to do so, even if the costs of providing the services are higher. See how far that gets you when you fill up your car's gas tank at the local filling station.

People certainly have the right to make such a plea to City Council, but I hope the members of Council have enough common sense to listen politely and then do the responsible thing.

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2007 at 12:14 pm

What's interesting about this thread is that there appears ann unwillingness to even *consider* the path toward a sale of utility assets. There also seems a hostile attitude present toward those who live here, but may not be able to afford to stay. Why should we let that happen - especially if a potential sale of the utility asset might (if shown by proper diligence) brought the total cost of utilitty outlay *down*, and created a more green community. Why does everyone deny this as a possibility, before giving themselves the opportunity to investigate its worth.

Remember, *36,000* (almost half) of Palo Alto citizens will be senior in 2030. Also, this isn't just about seniors; it's about at least considering alternatives (this idea among many) to the current endless rise in utility rates.

I'd love to hear more ideas, and less pooh-poohing of something that everyone's guessing about

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2007 at 1:58 pm


I like your alternative ideas, even if I thnik they need some real scrutiny. I have expressed some of my reservations, but they can be dealt with in a rational way.

You seem to dismiss the idea of nuclear power in the Bay Area, because of politics. Nuclear IS the future of electrical baseload generation, going forward. Many bumper stickers say "Think Globally, Act Locally". That pithy little statement applies perfectly to nuclear power. We need to think about the bigger picture (greenhouse gases, dependence on foreign fossil fuels), and build nuclear power plants LOCALLY!

If Palo Alto were to agree to place a nuclear plant within its city limits, we could probably struture the deal in such a way that our future utility costs would be ZERO, and our City budget (and schools) would also cost little or nothing. Palo Alto can be both green and nuclear, but it cannot be green without nuclear. Anna, please join the future by supporting local nuclear power plants.

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 5, 2007 at 10:09 pm


You make a good case for nuclear, but vast improvements on current power generation technology, in addition to materials innovation and the effective placement of incentives will accomplish the same goals. I'm very close to materials innovation developments; we're all going to be amazed within the next 7-10 years.

Good discussion.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 6, 2007 at 3:22 pm


I, too, look forward to the new technologies and materials. But I fail to see how they will provide clean baseload electricity. In simplest terms, where will the electrcity at night come from? Are you proposing battery storage from solar/wind? As we move to all-electric vehicles, where will that massive amount of electricty come from?

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2007 at 1:46 am


Web Link

Why is there no current significant investment in nuclear? the markets know something that many of us agree with. It's a fact that nuclear power is NOT as efficient in free energy markets as many nuclear proponents suggest.

Posted by Utility watcher, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Most people don't pay attention to their utility costs until a cold snap causes the gas bill to soar. I encourage Palo Alto residents to check their own history of consumption online: Web Link

Our family of 4 has electric use about 350 kWh per month, and 7 therms(summer) to 60 therms (winter) per month. We have a 1,200 SF home with compact fluorescent lights, and a programmable thermostat.

Electric rates weren't increased in 2006. And gas costs went up because of higher procurement costs. Just look at the historical cost to buy natural gas, where it doubled in last 4 years: Web Link

Selling the top rated CPAU won't lower your utility bills. Many communities served by private utilities like PG&E would love to have a public utility. Just look how hard City of Davis has worked to leave PG&E for SMUD.

You can lower your bills by becoming more efficient in your consumption. Build smaller more efficient homes, replace all appliances with Energy Star, and use compact fluorescent lamps everywhere possible!

Posted by Concerned, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 13, 2007 at 9:08 pm

Maybe this is a little off the topic but I am wondering how many other people there are in Palo Alto who pay no utility bills. Of course, Palo Alto has a "lien" against these people, my neighbors, who have paid no utility bills for years. But since they don't own their home and have no assets to attach, PAU won't get any money from them. Apparently there is a policy not to turn off utilities so these neighbors pay $0 while the rest of us have soaring utility bills.

Posted by Chris, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2007 at 11:32 pm

There's a way to reduce our Utility Bills (and our phone bills too) by 5%: get rid of the Utility Users Tax. Those of us who've been her long enough remember that we were promised that the tax would go before the voters after 10 years (which would have been in 1997 or 1998, I believe.) Naturally the council conveniently "forgot" about this when the time came.

And to Boomer: your post is premised on the assumption that Palo Alto's problem is insufficient tax revenue. This simply is not the case: while revenues have declined somewhat in recent years from the Internet Boom years, costs of provisions of city services in PA are still far above comparable neighboring cities. Palo Alto is in financial trouble because successive councils have given away the store to the City Employees, not because of any revenue shortage. (Check out the most recent Union Contract - which even former mayors decried as outrageously excessive, for example.)

The old adage that 'there's nothing so permanent as a temporary tax' certainly is supported by the actions of our city government.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 14, 2007 at 4:18 pm


There is a lot of interest from investors in nuclear power. Those companies currently owning nukes are a favorite of the investment markets, because the plants are real profit centers. For example see;

Web Link

The web site you provided is very pro-green. That is OK, but it is very waek in supporting what you have stated. For instance, Scheer (the author) states that nuclear power costs will continue to rise. Exactly the opposite is true, once nukes get off the ground in this country in this century. A huge portion of the start up costs for new nuclear plants are due to irrational regulatory burdens. As people come to see that modern nukes are very safe, that burden will come down. There will also develop an economy of scale - those companies with multiple contracts will sell their plants at a reduced price per unit.

France currently produces about 80% of its electricity using nukes. That makes France expremely secure against fossil fuel blackmail. Germany (where Scheer lives and agitates) is exptremely vulnerable to the Russian spigot. Of course, the U.S. is also vulnerable to the Mid-East and Venezuelian spigot. Solar and wind can contribute to energy security, but they cannot produce baseload. Scheer admits that proposed technologies to store electricity from solar/wind/biomass are "utopian". That doesn't stop him from proposing that we bet our future on such whims.

Scheer also advocates that we get away from centralized power generation and the major electrical grid. This is a romantic notion that fails to grasp a major issue: What happens when a hurricane devastes a large area, and outside energy cannot be quickly restored? Once the local solar panels and windmills are down on the ground, the survivors will have to resort to burning their own homes for fuel.

Nuclear power is the future. Solar and wind and conservation are good things, but they will not solve the issue.

Posted by Anna, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2007 at 10:19 pm


Most of Europe is taking down Nuclear facilities; France is the exception (what's new?).

The web link you placed shows an article that _suggests_ investment in nuclear - that's all. Please show me a serious investment pattern in nuclear energy by private equity players. I have yet to see even one.

Even if we do end up building nuclear plants, other innovations will gradually replace them. Nuclear energy is a waste (pun intended).

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 16, 2007 at 2:57 pm


Utilities that currently own nukes ar doing quite well through their investments. For instance (from the link I provided)...

"Utilities: Nuclear pays now
Forward-thinking utilities like Entergy snapped up lots of nuclear power plants in recent years. Now that natural gas, coal and oil are so much more expensive, payday has arrived. "It definitely gives us an advantage," says Entergy's Keuter, who's in charge of buying nuclear plants for the utility. "Our cost of electricity is substantially less than the competition."

According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, nuclear power cost 1.72 cents per kilowatt hour in 2003, while gas and oil cost above 5.5 cents. Coal cost about 1.8 cents.

Roger Conrad, editor of the investment newsletter Utility Forecaster, says our nation's 103 nuclear power plants are concentrated in the hands of six utility companies -- which has made those companies good investments. "They are a huge profit center for these companies," says Conrad. "

There have been no new investment opportnities in nukes for about 30 years, due to irrational fears about nuclear power, which prevented any new permits to be issued. One cannot invest in what one cannot produce. Happily, this is changing... look for a lot of investment in new nukes going forward.

BTW, one of the arguments that Scheer used to oppose nukes (in your link) was that we are running out of uranium. This is complete nonsense. See the following link:

Web Link

Uranium supply will not be a limiting factor for nuclear power going forward.

The future will be a combination of nuclear power and alternative approaches, with nuclear being the biggest player, by far, for about 50 years...then, who knows, maybe we will be able to go total solar. Nuclear power is green power. It's time is NOW!

Posted by Yes Sir, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2007 at 8:58 am

We outsource so many things.
I foresee Nuclear-electricity production in Mexico and delivered to us across the border. Its a grid !!!
Outsource! Outsource!!

Posted by Elise, a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Sorry, "Yes Sir" - it may be a grid, but for every mile it has to travel, you lose some of it. We'd do better building here.

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