Penny Pinncher loved to shop. And when she shopped, as you might have guessed, Penny loved bargains. Penny perused places like the Bargain Nook for her clothes; she clipped coupons and scoured sales.
One day, Penny went shopping for energy; imagine that! She wanted to find the best buy for the energy used to generate her electricity. Her first stop was at the nuclear power plant. Newt Tron, the manager, said to cover his operating costs he could let her have electricity for somewhere between 11 – 18 cents /kilowatt hour (kWh). Penny thanked him kindly and set out to find a better bargain.
Next stop was at the coal gasification (synthetic gas) plant. Oh my! The notice on the door indicated that syngas ran as high as 22 cents/kWh. She never even bothered to knock. “Where next?” Penny pondered.
She knew that in Wisconsin most electrical generation, about 80%, comes from coal and natural gas. With that much volume, surely one of these would be the low-cost leader. So she stopped in on Blackie Roccs, manager of the nearby power plant. “We gotta charge from 6 – 11cents /kWh to run the coal generator,” Blackie blurted.
Penny was unimpressed so she called the natural gas plant and learned their cost is 4 – 8 cents /kWh. “Not bad,” Penny admitted. “But what about renewable energy sources?” she wondered. Penny discovered that utility scale solar costs about 5 cents/kWh and wind turbine energy runs from 3 – 6 cents/kWh.
Impressed with the low cost of those clean energy sources, Penny was about to place her electricity order when who should come in but her cousin Karen Forearth. Penny bragged about the bargains she’s found in renewable energy.
“Let me show you something,” Karen winked. And off they went to the Energy Efficiency Emporium. On display for consumers were LED light bulbs, Energy Star appliances, “smart” gizmos like thermostats, power stirps, and charging stations, and much more. Most impressive was the display for utilities. It showed that a mere 3 cents /kWh spent on energy efficiency and waste reduction is actually the least expensive energy bargain.
“You see,” Karen pointed out, “the lowest cost electricity is that which is never generated in the first place. And when utilities generate less and customers use less, we get the added bonus of cleaner air, right here, where we’re forever… Earthbound.”