SEATTLE, Washington - I'm one of the lucky 20,000 Seattle City Light customers selected to receive condescending lectures about their electricity usage. I'm now burdened with bar graphs and smiley-face ratings concerning my electricity use relative to the use of my neighbors.
These are the people who sell me electricity. They should be lobbying me to use more, not less. They should be trying to sell me my own Large Hadron Collider, not telling me to use CFLs.
The folks who deliver these sorts of lectures don't seem to understand that we don't use electricity for the pleasure of seeing the big number on our bill, we use it because it makes our life better.
The implication of this image is that I'm spending too much on electricity, because look, some of my neighbors are using less. I look at this as me having a better life than my neighbors. How much better? At least $198 better, or else I wouldn't be spending it.
There's so much more to the story of comparing electricity usage than looking at these raw numbers - for instance, I work at home, so I have 2-3 computers and lights burning that many others won't have. Of course the busybodies have an answer for this; their literature implores me and the other victims of this "assistance" to contact them and tell them all about our life, so they can fine-tune their reports.
The real reason this program exists is that some people get a special thrill out of lecturing people, but the putative reason is concern about carbon emissions. (In fact if you go to the city climate web site they'll assign you a "carbon coach"). But if you look at the most recent (2006) figures, the power supplied by Seattle City Light is more than 89% hydro, and only about 2% comes from carbon-emitting sources. My breathing while walking back and forth to Bakery Nouveau probably emits more carbon than my electricity usage.
I'd really rather have a private electricity provider, motivated by good old fashioned "greed", than a public utility that uses me as a captive audience for their lecturing.