We all know that energy-efficiency is a way to shrink utility bills. Aggregated, energy-efficiency means we don’t have to pay for as money power plants or as costly distribution upgrades (oddly enough, power lines aren’t free—we pay for them). The rub is that utilities make money selling electricity, and generally they don’t make money selling less electricity.
And thus, it’s not surprising, although it’s surely disappointing, to read that Ameren Missouri is slashing its efficiency spending by 70%. Better for them to build more power plants that they charge us for, and sell us more electricity. We get whacked twice, with higher rates and the same or higher usage. People and companies deserve to profit from their investments–but it sure smells better when someone else benefits, too.
Saving energy at home saves you money at home. When a lot of us do it together, we save even more, because we avoid the costs of new power plants and power lines (and dirty air and dirty water). Unfortunately, as individuals, we don’t get to decide who the public good is protected from Ameren’s short-sighted behavior. We need our elected officials to make smart decisions there (someone should start an office pool on that one!). But we can take steps to insulate ourselves from activities like Ameren’s in Missouri. We can slash our own utility bills, and invest in our homes and our futures instead of Ameren’s. That we can start doing today. The rest, well, we may have to wait until election day…although I do wonder what a tent would like on Ameren’s front lawn.