September 2006
« Aug   Oct »


  • Karrie E. Alms: Amazing insight into the world of politics awaits any reader at pibgorn … from a Demon’s...
  • Tony: Homefield is Dynegy. Dynegy is Ameren. There Charging You twice for the same energy. Do you really thihk $.04...
  • SouthEnder: Also does anyone remember the Velvet Freeze located on Jefferson St, up the street from the Warner Homes....
  • Eric Pollitt: I flew economy class to Hong Kong for Christmas vacation, which is a 14 hour flight. When I got back...
  • Mike: Homefield has been sold to dynery. Google dynegy scandal to see who your new parent is. If this upsets you give...
  • mortified: Fun while it lasted. Godspeed!
  • aaron: your blogging will be missed but i know that your spirit of fairness will remain alive in your other...
  • Jon: CJ, your blog was a revelation and an inspiration. You have a wonderful talent that is an asset to the...
  • Billy Dennis: Of course the Chronicle is done: Screw you. The Chronicle is one of the best researched blogs...
  • Paul Wilkinson: CJ, am sorry you have ended your blog. It was well done. It seems many have given up as we keep...
  • Sharon Crews: Your voice is definitely needed in this community. Thanks for all your insights.
  • emergepeoria: Your blog is great resource to research Peoria issues. I hope you leave it up.
  • BucketHead: I was not suggesting that, I believe the both of you had very strong common sense and that lead to your...
  • C. J. Summers: Without anonymity, there is no courage among my detractors. Take a look back at the wide variety of...
  • Of course the Chronicle is done: Without Sandberg to give stores to the Chronicle there is no Chronicle.

Electric Shock: Homesteading not so crazy-sounding now

Electric ShockAfter budget-busting increases in natural gas last winter, now we get to see the other half of our CILCO bills go through the roof. AmerenCILCO announced yesterday that electric rates will rise 55 percent starting in January 2007. Pioneer-life doesn’t seem as far-fetched all of a sudden.

I remember reading about the Howerter family in a Journal Star series on homesteading. They were living “off the grid” — that is, without any electricity they couldn’t generate for themselves. It was a hard life, not unlike the ones the pioneers lived when they came to this area. You just don’t realize how much time and energy is saved by our modern appliances. I admired their idealism, but thought it was crazy to try such a thing.

Until now.

Oh, I’m not moving my family into a rural log cabin and becoming a modern day Ingalls homestead. But I am considering things I never thought I would even explore: ways to get off the grid. Right now I’m looking at the feasibility of solar power and ways to conserve energy in our house. There are surprisingly (to me) a huge number of resources on the internet on ways to conserve and generate one’s own electricity.

I was just reading an article in Home Power Magazine about a family who installed a solar electricity system, also called “PV,” short for “photovoltaics.” Even with this system and all their conservation efforts in place, they still couldn’t produce enough electricity to get completely off the grid, especially in the winter months when there obviously is very little sun and a lot of furnace blower energy being used. But in the summer months, they came very close to producing 100% of their electricity needs. So, that tells me it’s at least worth exploring.

We’ve got to do something. We simply can’t afford a 55% increase in our current CILCO bills.

10 comments to Electric Shock: Homesteading not so crazy-sounding now

  • SA

    A local company called SmartEnergy is developing a small roof-mounted wind turbine that would not produce electricity (at least in the 1st phase development), but would be connected to a device in the main furnace vent that would create heat and supplement the central heating system. I think they are still working on a prototype, but it seems very promising. Their design is not the blade design we all know about but a more compact, unobtrusive design.

    When natural gas was deregulated (I think it was the early 80’s), prices initially increased but production increased and prices dropped significantly. Since then, we saw a spike one winter about years ago, then the most recent price increases. If electric supply deregulation works the same way, we’ll see more central generating and transmission sources as well as improved distributed generation technologies. Until then, we’ll all have to find ways to conserve.

  • Neil Hardin

    Let’s not put all the blame on CILCO. The deregulation bill in 1997 froze rates for 10 years, and even forced decreases on all utilities. It was inevitable that this would happen. No business can go 10 years without raising its prices. My biggest fear is that the same lawmakers will step in and make another foolish decision to delay these increases. Bankrupting existing utilities is not the answer. Sure, someone will still be there selling electricity, but what kind of safety shortcuts will they take so they can make money based on lawmakers’ concerns about getting re-elected?

  • MDD

    If Ameren/Cilco and ComEd have been able to make money every year with the freeze in effect, why do they need to raise rates so much, so fast? Will their profits suddenly rise 55% as well?

  • Marty Palmer

    First thing There is no sutch thing as CILCO ( check Ameren’s trucks)Ameren is not calling themselves Ameren/CILCO mutch more if at all in the public. The Last Summer concert the banner was Ameren only.

    Second We had a 10 year freeze on electric. now BAM a rate adjustment. No one complained with the 10 year freeze. I do feel the increase must be graduated in not just a Lump sum increase.

  • prego man

    Things were sure a lot simpler when Reddy Kilowatt was in charge…

  • Emtronics

    Does not the ICC regulated the profit margin for Ameren? I mean, as prices go up for coal and wages to produce the electricity, so the rate per kilowatt goes up to protect the utility from losing money. Within the last 10 years of the so called freeze, the price per kilowatt has gone way up. This I suspect is because it now costs more to produce the electricty. A boxcar load of coal costs more today than 10 years ago. So, what are we getting in January? Higher prices so Ameren can make more profit?

  • CJ, if you’re redoing your roof, solar makes tons of sense. They now have solar roofing tiles that look reasonably like asphalt, and only cost 150% what regular reroofing costs (plus $100 for the electrician to hook you in) AND Illinois has pretty generous refunds/tax write-offs/rebates for homeowners putting in home solar or wind systems.

    Even if you just add a solar panel or two, definitely look around for state rebates and writeoffs. (I have a website, I’ll try to dig it up.) And put anything with a remote control on a powerstrip … they all draw a small but steady sip of electricity to keep the TV (radio/DVD player/whatever) ready to respond to the remote control. If you plug them into a power strip, you can just flip the whole system on when you sit down to watch something and off when you get up to leave.

    Plugging and unplugging works too, but powerstrips are so much easier when you have six darn things attached to the TV. 😀

  • Neil Hardin

    Sorry, Marty, but we oldtimers will always call it CILCO. The Ameren website has some good information on all of this, but I admit it’s really difficult to follow. If I read their material correctly, there well may be another rate increase for the delivery of electricity, too. Sounds like they had contracts to purchase electricity that all end at the end of this year and have to be re-negotiated at “market rates.” On top of that, they have had a rate freeze on the delivery of electricity, and that will go up too. Any increases over the last 10 years were in the fuel adjustment clause, which is supposed to be for the cost of purchasing electricity and coal, etc. So maybe the 55% is the low end, if that’s possible. I’m wondering if they will do much in the community anymore, like the summer concerts. Not sure the public is going to be very receptive to that given the way bills are going to go!

  • Silence NoGood

    If any other company decided it was going to raise their rates 55%, it would cause complete chaos. If Wal-Mart raised everything 55% markup – they WOULD go bankrupt. If McDonalds did, same thing. A monopoly does it, its completely okay.

    Thats life!

  • Neil Hardin

    Silence No Good: That’s true, buy only a monopoly can be told not to raise its rates for 10 years. If the state said that to WalMart, they’d leave the state. That’s the tradeoff for being a monopoly, someone else can tell you how to do business. I’ll bet the Legislature does something in the fall veto session to make this even worse.