• Unfair Cost Shifting in Net Metering Policies

    Net metering policies have been in effect since the 1980s, but not all of those policies still make sense today. Keep reading to learn what net metering is, and to find out how net metering might be costing your family more than you should have to pay for your home’s electricity.

    What is Net Metering?
    Net metering is a billing arrangement between a utility company or nonprofit Electric Cooperative and a smaller power producer (like the Watt Family, who has installed solar panels on their roof).

    The solar energy the Watt Family generates is used to power their home. Sometimes they’re even able to create even more energy than they need. When that happens, they can send their extra energy back to the Cooperative to be shared with the coop’s other Member-Owners.

    The net metering billing arrangement between the Watt Family and the Cooperative decides how the Watt Family will be credited for the excess energy it sends back to the power company. This is dictated in part by state and federal legal requirements. 

    What is a Net Meter?
    The net meter itself is a tool that tracks exactly how much energy the Watt Family is using from the coop’s power sources and exactly how much solar energy the Watts are sending back to the coop after powering their own home.

    Net metering started out with good intentions: it was designed as a simple way to track energy sharing by smaller energy producers like the Watts. While net meters are still fine, the policies surrounding net metering don’t always makes sense today.

    Why Net Metering Policies Don’t Make Sense Today
    Under current net metering legal regulations, your Cooperative may have to pay small producers like the Watt Family retail price for the wholesale electricity they add back to the power grid.

    When that happens, your Cooperative incurs costs that it cannot recoup. Your Cooperative has to shift some of that cost on to you, its member-owners, in your monthly electric bills.

    Unfair Cost Shifting
    If your local grocery store had to pay farmers retail prices for eggs, milk, or meat, your grocery bills would get a lot more expensive. That wouldn’t be fair to you, the shopper, right?

    Electrical power is no different. If your Cooperative is required by law to pay small power producers like the Watt Family retail prices for their wholesale power production, your electricity bill gets more expensive. That’s not fair to you, the Member-Owner, and that’s why we call it unfair cost shifting — because you shouldn’t have to pay the price of independent renewable energy production by other Member-Owners in your community.

    Member-Owners Cannot Afford to Foot the Bill
    A large majority of Missouri Electric Cooperatives' Member-Owners live on fixed incomes or low wages and cannot afford to install renewable energy systems. These Member-Owners need reliable, affordable electricity for their homes without any fancy bells or whistles.

    These fixed- or lower-income Member-Owners don’t have access to alternative energy sources like solar panels or wind energy because they simply cannot afford the installation costs. If they have to pay higher rates to subsidize those members who do have the ability to install renewable energy sources, it creates a system imbalance.

    Equity in Electricity
    Your Cooperative appreciates — and sometimes needs — the extra electric power that small producers like the Watt Family add back to the grid. The goal is to fairly reward families like the Watts for producing extra power without unfairly shifting the cost of renewable energy production on to the majority of our Member-Owners.

    Your Cooperative’s Principles make us stewards for our entire communities, which means that we must advocate for policies that make sense for all of our Member-Owners. Come back to the blog to learn more about policy options that encourage renewable energy creation without unfairly shifting its cost on the member-owners who can least afford it.

    Learn More
    Learn more about Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives, and how we work to provide safe, efficient energy to rural Missouri by following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • How to Save Energy in Your Home Office

    In 2009, Forrester Research did a study on telecommuting in America. What they found was that at that time there were already 34 million American telecommuters. According to their study, that number should exceed 60 million people today.

    60 million Americans’ employers are saving money on overhead when their employees telecommute, but what happens to those 60 million Americans’ home electricity bills when they unplug at work so that they can plug in at home?

    If you work from home or if you have a home office, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your home electric bill, even when you’re telecommuting on a regular basis. Keep reading to learn how you can avoid taking on your company’s electrical expenses when you work from home.

    Invest in the Right Equipment
    Laptop computers are about one-third more energy efficient than desktop computers are, so when it’s time to upgrade your desktop, a laptop is an energy efficient — and convenient — alternative.

    Another thing you can look for in home office equipment is something called an ENERGY-STAR® rating. Using ENERGY-STAR® office equipment can cut your energy usage by as much as 50-75% (source).

    ENERGY-STAR® is a voluntary program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. You can find ENERGY-STAR® ratings on consumer products like computers, monitors, printers, and more.

    You can learn more about ENERGY-STAR® office equipment on the website.

    Unplug! (or Buy an Advanced Power Strip)
    It should come as no surprise that turning off your devices when they aren’t in use can save electricity, but did you know that in many cases, devices continue to draw electricity even when they’re unplugged?

    It’s true. Your laptop’s AC adaptor is a great example, because it continues to draw electricity even when your laptop isn’t plugged in.

    Unplugging devices when they aren’t in use is the best way to ensure that you aren’t passively draining power. If unplugging your devices or manually powering down your surge bars when you aren’t working is too much, well…work, though, that’s okay.

    If unplugging isn’t practical for you, then consider purchasing an advanced power strip. Advanced power strips have automatic shutoffs that help you save power when you aren’t using your electronics. 

    Check Your Settings
    If you’re looking for a way to create energy efficiency immediately, without spending any money at all, then your first step is to check your device’s power settings.

    Standby power is the power that your electronics use when they’re running but not being used. In a blog post by House Logic, the site says that standby power accounts for approximately $100 of the average American family’s electricity bill each year:

    “Assuming your home office equipment represents about 4% of your electric bill, you could save up to $4 per year,” says House Logic.

    Not sure how to adjust your device’s power settings? ENERGY-STAR®’s website explains how to manually adjust power settings for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and the Mac OS.

    If you’re one of the many people in Missouri who work from home at least some of the time, you can save a little each year on your electric bill by following these energy efficiency tips in your home office. From investing in energy-efficient equipment to adjusting the power settings on your devices, every little bit helps.

    For more energy-saving tips, follow your Missouri Electric Cooperatives on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

  • May is Electrical Fire Safety Month

    In celebration of Electrical Fire Safety Month this May, the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has launched the third edition of its National Electrical Safety Month publication, Electrical Safety Illustrated.

    May 2016’s Electrical Fire Safety Month theme is “At Home and at Work, Make Fire Safety Everyone’s Responsibility.” The May 2016 issue of Electrical Safety Illustrated is a great resource for anyone who’s interested in learning more about home and workplace fire safety.

    The publication offers tips for workplace electrical safety and home electrical safety, and it’s available for free on ESFI’s website.

    Workplace & Home Electrical Safety Tips

    Workplace electrical safety tips include updated recommendations on lockout/tagout procedures and testing before you touch. Some of the publication’s home electrical safety advice covers safe extension cord use and how not to overload your home’s electrical circuits.

    Community and Family Electrical Saftey Education

    Electrical Safety Illustrated also offers tips on how to educate your kids and your community about electrical safety. From social media that you can easily share with friends to interactive electrical safety activities and cartoons for kids, the publication includes easy-to-understand graphics and is a great resource for families and businesses, alike.

    About Electrical Fire Safety Month

    Electrical Fire Safety Month is an initiative of the Electric Safety Foundation International (ESFI); the premier nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to promoting electrical safety at home and in the workplace.

    ESFI sponsors Electrical Fire Safety Month each May to educate the public in order to reduce the number of electrically related fires, fatalities, injuries, and property losses. ESFI encourages the sharing of its campaign resources at home and in schools, workplaces, and communities.

    Electrical safety awareness and education among consumers, families, employees, and communities will prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities. For EFSI’s complete collection of National Electrical Safety Month resources, and for more information on spring safety, visit 

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