When we received our natural gas bill we were shocked and naturally upset. We are full-time residents in Big Bear Lake in the midst of a very cold winter. We wondered if we must sell our home to be able to live on our retirement income or go back to work. We decided to find ways to reduce usage first.
Our April bill arrived. We reduced therms from 198 to 36. Our cost for a month filled with snow, nights in the 20s and highs in the 30s was $77.09 instead of $404.86. Here is what we did:
Installed fireplace insert and turned off furnace; closed upstairs and all rooms not being used; placed R10 blanket around water heater; cooked multiple meals when using stove and reheated food in the microwave; installed (but didn't connect) small water heater under the kitchen sink to use as holding tank for warm water as pipes run under the house from main water heater; reduced shower usage time by wetting down, turning off water, soaping up, rinsing off; rack-dried clothes in front of fireplace; installed foam insulation plates in outside wall electrical outlets; and used passive solar by opening and closing drapes.
Our challenge led to a house heated to around 70 degrees instead of 50, we are much more comfortable, and we feel quite good about conserving energy. The relief we feel to have some control over our financial resources is indescribable.
GLENDA L. AKINS
Big Bear Lake
Imagine the energy saved in California if half of the households started using clothespins. Hanging out clothes for the sun to dry is still an OK thing to do.
MELBA A. SIMMS
In sifting through the ashes of the deregulation debacle and analyzing the many mistakes that were made, not only in the original 1996 bill but in the way it was handled by the Davis administration, one mistake was particularly irresponsible.
In May 1999, way before deregulation hit the fan, Southern California Edison asked the California Public Utilities Commission to let it negotiate low-cost, long-term contracts with outside power producers. This would have helped stabilize wholesale power prices for California, since Edison and other private utilities were required by the PUC to sell at least 50% of their fossil fuel generating plants in California. The PUC refused this and subsequent requests, thus exposing California to a seller's market for outside power gougers to exploit.
This myopic decision may go down in history as the Titanic of all governmental blunders.
Re "DWP Chief to Work for Davis; Post as Energy Czar Likely," April 17: Before DWP General Manager S. David Freeman is appointed state energy czar, perhaps it would be wise to have a closer look at his history of wavering policies on deregulation. And certainly it would be pertinent to hear an explanation on just why, during an energy crisis, the man soon to be advising Californians on conservation keeps the lights burning at DWP headquarters--all offices, all floors, all night long.