Letters for Jan. 16


Pricing electricity


Why is the pricing of electricity different than other commodities?

Last year, on Jan. 14, HELCO changed the way they calculate a residential bill. What was a simple constant rate for each kWh consumed became a tiered price structure.

What is the result of this? As your consumption (kWh) increases, the rate at which you are billed also changes; a type of energy pricing not restricted to HELCO or the other investor-owned electric utilities in Hawaii. A considerable number of electric suppliers in other states also have adopted this type of rate structure.

So, what’s the “issue”? As you exceed 300 kWh per billing period, your cost per kWh increases by 5 percent, and above 1000 kWh the cost is an additional 2 percent. Trying to recall another product where the more you buy, the more you pay per unit, I’m at a loss to think of any. How long would any merchant survive if, as an example, they would charge $3 for a half-gallon of milk, but price a full gallon at $7?

But we’re not trying to reduce milk consumption one could argue. True, but why with petroleum, which we are attempting to reduce demand for, can you buy a five-quart container of motor oil for $18 when the cost of a quart container of the identical product is $5?

Another interesting observation: For other than residential usage, either there is no tier, or it is an inverse tiered structure; the higher the consumption, the less the rate per unit.

My intent is not to chastise the utility for formulating a different way of billing; I have no knowledge as to what, if any PUC mandate was followed to accomplish it. I know what the situation is with regard to my electric usage; the more I use, the higher my per-unit cost. Then I decide if I really need the extra power.

Michael L. Last


Come help us

In reference to Mr. Schweitzer’s response to the cleaning up of the Bayfront (“Your Views,” Jan. 11), I take it that he does not know where it is and what has materialized on the beach. But if he and other volunteers from Volcano would come and help us clean the beach, we would be grateful.

I hope he can bring with him a couple backhoes, several dump trucks and provide us with a place to put the bagasse, as there are tons and tons of it that would have to be removed.

As for the rubbish, that is not a problem. But the beach is not like a highway or roadside where you can walk and collect what drivers throw out the windows. Besides, I am sure, that if I was to go and haul some of the bagasse out, some environmentalist from the Volcano would come down demanding that I have an EIS study done. But we do welcome your help.


John Gallipeau