After a busy week at the 9th International Temperature Symposium, I am spending a few days in El Segundo, a pleasant small town near Los Angeles. I am staying with my friend from school, the world famous Brain Imaging Specialist, Richard Leahy.
The contrasts between the US and the UK are striking, and they are often not at all what one might have expected. In Europe the USA is often portrayed as ‘Energy Satan’ but based on a cursory inspection of the local paper and Richard’s electricity bill, this isn’t fair.
In the LA Times I read that the Environmental Protection Agency has announced that any new power plant in the US will have to meet carbon dioxide emission requirements that for all practical purposes, bans new coal-fired plant. Since coal generation is the cheapest form of electricity generation this is a major and difficult step. And one which has not been taken by the UK or the EU.
Most amazingly, the more electricity one uses, the more one has to pay. This is a rational way to charge for a precious resource, and should (IMHO) be used more widely. It provides a direct incentive for people to use less electricity, resulting in less emissions and less resource use. The price rise is quite steep:
- For the first 10 kWh used each day the charge is around 8 pence per unit.
- For the next 3 kWh used each day the charge is around 10 pence per unit.
- For the next 7 kWh used each day the charge is around 15 pence per unit.
- For the next 10 kWh used each day the charge is around 18 pence per unit.
- Anything above this is the charged at around 20 pence per unit.
The system is not without disadvantages. One downside is that in order to ensure fairness, there are number of factors which determine ‘baseline’ electricity allocation and that makes it difficult to work out what the actual price is! But overall I think it represents a practical balance between fairness and freedom.
Anyway – I am off to ‘soak up some rays’. Stay Cool 🙂