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There’s another really good reason why you should look into producing your own electricity. The cost of electricity from the grid has been steadily rising for years and every indication is that it is going to keep increasing.
Summer electricity prices in the Northeast in 2013 were 2.7% higher than in 2012, the US Energy Information Administration reported. The administration blamed the increase on a heat wave, but the real causes of increase appear to be an aging power grid that requires more maintenance and increased demand.
Cost of Maintaining the Electric Grid has more than Doubled
The cost of maintaining the grid is now 43% higher than it was in 2002, The Washington Post noted. The same article noted the cost of maintaining the grid is rising twice as fast as the rate of inflation.
A survey of 200 electrical utilities conducted for the Associated Press found that it now costs $21,514 to maintain a mile of power lines. It cost $7,185 a mile to maintain the electric grid in 2003. The cost of maintaining the grid has more than doubled (it’s actually almost tripled!).
Yet many people, including President Obama, are calling for even more spending. Obama wants the grid upgraded, but hasn’t said how much it would cost or who would pay for it.
Massoud Amin, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, told the AP it would cost $21 billion a year to upgrade the grid. He also stated the money would have to be spent for 20 years which adds up to $420 billion.
The most logical source of money for covering increased grid costs is obviously the average customer. Utilities are going to have to drastically increase the rates they charge for electricity just to maintain what they have. If any expansion is required, even more rate increases will be needed.
Data Centers Eat Electricity Drive up Rates for Average Customers
There’s a good reason why costs will need to increase: electricity usage is increasing. Vast amounts of electricity are being eaten up by so called server farms on which the Internet runs. Server farms are giant buildings that contain thousands of processors. They’re what make the Internet run and they use a lot of electricity.
Server farms or data centers in the United States now use around 9.9 billion watts of electricity a year, according to The New York Times. That is equivalent to the output of about 10 nuclear power plants. The owners of such data centers include giant companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.com. They are what enable such companies to offer services such as cloud computing.
The grid is being reconfigured to service data centers and the cost is high. The Times noted that utilities spent $1 billion building a new power line to connect the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia with Loudon County, Va. The line was built to service data centers in Loudon County and the cost of building it was paid for by ordinary rate payers.
The utility Dominion Virginia Power built the line because data centers are among its best customers. The utility estimates that data centers bought 500 million watts of electricity in 2012 and will buy 1 billion watts of electricity within in a few years. In other words the grid is being reconfigured to service big business at the expense of the average consumer.
Power Plant Closure and War on Coal to Hurt Average Consumers
If that wasn’t bad enough, the new regulations President Obama wants to place on utilities will force many coal-fired power plants to close. Replacing those plants with other power sources will drive up electricity prices. Utilities will need to get the money to build other plants from somewhere—probably the rate payer.
Obama has announced his intent to aggressively enforce the Clean Air Act in an attempt to reduce carbon monoxide in order to prevent global warming. Critics have noted that this course of action is already forcing some power plants to shut down.
You Need to Look into Alternative Energy Now
The bottom line is that the cost of electricity is about to sky rocket for several reasons. Remember the shock you got when gas prices started going through the roof a few years ago. Imagine what will happen electricity costs start to balloon.
Many families will no longer be able to afford things they now take for granted such as air conditioning, computers, television, microwave ovens and electric powered tools. Families will have to cut back on their lifestyle and give up new cars, vacations and other luxuries just to pay the electric bill.
Fortunately there is a way to avoid these sky rocketing electric costs. Your family or business can start generating its own electricity. Even if you can generate just a portion or your electricity, you can cut your electric bill. If you can generate 30% of your electricity, you could cut your electric bill by 30%
Modern solar electric systems can generate a large portion of the electricity your family needs and 30% of their cost can be covered by a federal tax credit. In some areas, utilities are also required to buy electricity produced by such systems which means the electric company might send you a check instead of a bill.
Other electricity making devices you can look into include wind turbines, residential fuel cells and microturbine systems. These systems use fuel cells to generate electricity for the home and as with solar electric, homeowners that install one can qualify for a tax credit.
It simply makes no sense to rely on an increasingly expensive power grid for the electricity your family or business needs. Those who take advantage of these new technologies now will save a fortune in the years to come as electric rates skyrocket.