Kyoto – A Perspective (Erratum)

Posted on Wed 06/18/2008 by



I knew that sooner or later, some of the facts I’ve written here might come back to haunt me, and today I found one.

Remember that I’ve said in a couple of places that some things just didn’t seem to be quite right. Those things I tried to chase up in as many places as was possible to try and verify them. I also mentioned that sometimes website B might use figures from Website A, compounding the error. Well this happened to me. I checked figures from one source, and then when I saw at a second place those figures almost the same, I used those figures. I actually tried to chase them up on that absolutely huge US Government Energy Information Administration (EIA) website, but because of its size I tended to look in the wrong places and just couldn’t quite locate it, although one area I did look seemed to actually bear out those figures I had, so that acted as another source of verification. However it still seemed somehow odd, and it always niggled away at me.

This morning, I saw an article in a US news link about electricity usage and it caused me to to check my own account which came in recently. I share emails on a daily basis with a good friend who lives in California, and I sent him the link. I commented to my friend that this guy in the story uses an awful lot of electricity, and I worked it out to be a substantial amount more than we use here in our household. My friend sent me back a rundown on his usage, and THAT is what caused me to go checking again. His usage seemed considerably less than what I thought was the US average.

So, I went back to that EIA website and finally did locate the correct figures, and yes, they are significantly lower than what I had indicated earlier.

Now where I did mention it was a couple of posts back in Part 38, solutions for the individual householder. I quoted US consumption at around the average of 35,000 Killowatt Hours (KWH) In actual fact, average US usage is only a tick over 11,000KWH, a third of what I quoted.

So, in the context of what I was actually writing, I was using that amount to indicate how long it would take to pay off the largest solar array available at close on $45,000. What the original figures meant was that you would need to remain in that house for 15 years before it started to show a return. These correct figures now mean that the commitment to stay in that house would be closer to 40 to 45 years before it started to show a return, which incidentally is just longer than the actual lifespan of those solar panels, which seems pretty convenient if you ask me. So now, it seems that installing the solar panels is not a thing done to save you money in the long run, but quite the opposite really. It seems that you’re only doing it out of the goodness of your heart to save production of greenhouse gases, quite an altruistic thing really, but keep in mind what I did say originally. This is only REVENUE neutral, because at night when the solar panels are not producing electricity, you are still using power from the grid generated by every means, coal included.

Also, causing me to check these figures again showed up another thing.

You good people in the US are not the only ones suffering with mendacious politicians. Just prior to the last State election, our erstwhile State political leader privatised the collection of monies from the the public for their electricity usage. He said that because there was now competition in the market place, the price of electricity would not only stabilise, but would actually go down as the market place sorted itself out. Since that time, the cost of electricity has gone up three times. The Premier who placed his hand on his heart as he told us that has since resigned so he could spend more time with his family, and has now left that family here while he took up a highly paid lecturing position at a US University, that added to his superannuation payout and other assorted Government perks, and payments for all the Boards he’s on. The new Premier placed hand on heart also and told us that the rises were absolutely necessary, and that when taken in context, we should consider ourselves lucky as the cost here is so much cheaper than it is in the US. All of this we accepted, because we are just so lucky that electricity is so cheap here compared to what it is in the US.

We currently pay 14.1 cents per KWH.

The US average is 10.2 cents per KWH.

Only seven States are more expensive than it is here, those being Alaska, Hawaii, and some of the smaller States in the North East who have to buy the bulk of their electricity from other States, which would make that extra cost seem pretty natural to me. California’s cost is around the same as it is here, but then you’d sort of expect that also, but all being said, the cost is substantially less when totalled for the whole year, an amount near $450.00.

So, all that having been said, I apologise for an error with the figures, but it only accentuates the true cost of the solar panels, and how far that cost extends out into the future before it actually pays for itself.

Just so you can check the cost for your own State, here is the link to the page on the EIA. Click on the blue tab at the top for ‘Residential’.

Oh! The article that brought all this to may attention. This guy uses more electricity in one year than our household where I live uses in 25 years, and he’s telling us that WE need to cut back for the sake of the environment. I guess it all depends upon the perspective you view things from.