According to the White Fence Index, the national average cost for electricity is $80.96 per month. Your mileage may vary, of course.
It’s a close race between the inept small town electric utility in Pahrump, Nevada and the corrupt Los Angeles, California DWP as to who has the most outages. (I’m Mr. Negativity today). A small earthquake near L.A. caused power spikes that knocked the computer I was using offline during a recent visit. The uninterruptible supply wasn’t, as it happens.
In the quake’s aftermath, I checked the local ham repeaters, which always work fine (I’m WA6ZFY), and used one of those Etón FR160B radios that don’t need batteries to listen to the news on the broadcast airwaves. I can just place it in the sun or turn a crank to get power from the dynamo. It also has a 3 LED flashlight, AM, FM, Weather Band, and a cell phone charging ability powered from turning the crank. I use a Lenmar Universal Power Pack Kit with AC, DC USB Power Adapter (Black) for that to avoid risk of damaging the cell phone, but now this is getting overly complicated. You can get the Etón Red Cross radios at Radio Shack and many sporting goods stores.
Even more fun is the solar recharger bag (shown above) that I’ve been testing in the Southwest U.S. sunshine since February with no melting of the battery pack. I bought 10 rechargeable AA cells separately, the “solar cells” in the ad are the photovoltaic pieces. It has a cigarette lighter socket like in a car, but you can take it backpacking on foot.
Don’t expect it to charge your car battery or power an inverter for your laptop. Maybe you could finesse those things with some hardware fiddling, but you’d need patience since it’s four watts, not forty watts.
It’s perfect for existing iPhone and cell phone cigarette lighter chargers as is. I got it to work with a 12 volt scanner I bought at Radio Shack years ago. Again, that required adding my own cigarette adapter connected to the appropriate size power plug.
It also seems to run emergency Citizen Band rigs designed to plug into car 12 volt sockets. A good way to keep in touch when parked without draining your car battery. A great addition to your “Blackout Bag” for less than the average electric bill. Why would you need such a device?
Los Angeles Times Online described the recent unpleasantness of the L.A. Department of Water and Power’s extortion in the story “Rate hike standoff reveals L.A. City Council’s distrust of DWP.”
At least the money is well spent, according to NBC Los Angeles, “Strip Clubs, Drinking and Driving — Just Another DWP Workday?.” Or not.
Before the shakedown, there were many mysterious water main breaks, which now appear to be the fault of *um*, guess who? Says CBS 2 Los Angeles online headline, “DWP’s Water Rationing Blamed For Water Main Breaks.” Excerpt from article:
“As ironic as it may be, it turns out that the rationing program created too much pressure causing enormous stress on the pipes causing them to burst.”
As you can read in my previous post, I’m no fan of the Arizona state immigration law, Greenwashing AZ’s Jaime Cuervo Laws, but the California state and L.A. city budget is in crisis thanks to unsustainable pensions and extravagant spending that would never be tolerated in the private sector (unless it’s Wall Street, OK, I’ll take that conservative talking point back).
Still, I don’t think it’s wise for those L.A. geniuses to start a trade war with a provider of one quarter of their electricity. ABC 7 online (with video), “Arizona punches back, threatens LA’s power.”
Angelinos may want even more powerful solar and/or wind power systems and go completely off-grid. According to the L.A. Times blog, “Solar electric lease firm Sungevity expands to Los Angeles DWP service area.”
“[Sungevity President and founder, Danny] Kennedy says 60% of California solar customers will immediately pay less for electricity with leased rooftop solar than they would without it and that by mid-lease all customers are paying less. Sungevity automatically increases the cost of its leases 2.5% per year, but Kennedy says most utilities are raising their rates 5% annually.”