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Old 01-16-2009, 01:49 PM
Location: SoCalif
102 posts, read 239,543 times
Reputation: 95


I would guess these kinds of increases are beyond the control of management team and directly due to legal or environmental nonsense.

A small story to illustrate. In the 1970's I worked for a large metropolitan utility and among my responsibilities was the scrap and salvage sales of obsolete inventory and plants. The environmental/legal forces in local government and PSC had won a battle to ban coal in favor of low sulpher oil (no. 2 oil as my memory serves me). Normally I would try and sell this equipment as scrap (reusable by some other utility with coal plants incl. our own potentially) but in this case from the board of directors ordered to have this material melted ASAP. Since we had plants that might need this expensive and irrepalaceable equipment I argued back that this was a potentially severe mistake and a threat to the cities power supply. I was overruled and near reprimanded for questioning the decision.

The following year the electric rates doubled and worse. Since in the 1960's all electric homes were pushed by the same people, it was an extrordinarily upsetting thing to see. People were paying far more for electricity than for their mortgages!

Keep voting in these type of people and we'll all be living in eastern European style poverty.
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:40 PM
Location: Livingston, Montana
638 posts, read 1,723,101 times
Reputation: 466
We're w/Northwest Energy here in Livingston area and our bill went from 150 to 235 and we didn't use any more than we had.
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:32 PM
1 posts, read 1,800 times
Reputation: 10
Originally Posted by EhlJay View Post
Hey All -

Just wondered if anyone else was located in our area (south central Montana) and was also a 'victim' of the ridiculous rate increases, wholesale power surcharges, 20.5% kwh increase, etc. that Beartooth Electric has just imposed?

Our electric bill almost doubled....went from $165 to $323 due to these insane charges. They had a piece on one of the Billings news stations last night and featured a Beartooth Electric customer who got a $903 electric bill this month!!!

We have always thought our bill was high in the first place considering we don't have any 'major draw' electric appliances/devices in our house (hot water is propane, primary heat is wood). Our house is also not huge, at about 1800 sq ft....But these new charges are insane!

If anyone else is out there maybe a petition to the PUC, legislators, state senators are in order? Not sure how the PUC could have ever condoned this in the first place?
We're in Chicago on the northwest side and my bill was a whopping $330.00. I'm just about to give up on trying to own a home anymore. Just disgusted.
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Old 01-29-2009, 09:10 PM
Location: NW MT
1,436 posts, read 2,925,410 times
Reputation: 548
All you peeps with these $300+ electric bills would be better off using a gas generator right now ! Cheaper if done right...

Show that electric company who the boss is .
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Old 01-30-2009, 04:48 PM
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
7,543 posts, read 12,609,464 times
Reputation: 2954
Same here in SoCal... I'm using about 1/3rd LESS electricity than I was ten years ago, yet my monthly bill is 10 TIMES what it was 10 years ago. And it keeps going up. If they can't raise the base rate, they find a way to lower the "highest hourly rates" threshold... which is now down to about what one light bulb uses per month, so everyone pays the max rate all the time. It's ridiculous.

Propane is just as bad; it peaked at $5/gallon and is still around $3/gal.

I've been keeping my little house (1100 square feet) in the 55-60 degree range all winter, and dress like an Eskimo full time... and it's still costing me around $350/month, for propane and electric that only run a few hours each day.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:43 AM
Location: carbon county montana
1 posts, read 1,700 times
Reputation: 10
Not only did my bill double while I was away, it has gone up since I returned, and, I just received a letter that my electricity will be cut off soon if BEC does not receive four times the usual amount and the extra surcharges. I have been paying my bill regularly and kept it up-to-date for over 10 years, but that seems to mean nothing to the 'office manager'
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Old 03-11-2009, 02:47 PM
Location: NW MT
1,436 posts, read 2,925,410 times
Reputation: 548
Better yet, instead of a gas genset, get a diesel genset... buy new veggie oil by the barrel for $1 a gallon and go to town. With the proper setup you can power everything for about $50 - $75 a month. Probably what your electric bill used to be !

Most likely get the setup cost back in a couple years. AND no Electric company to deal... I come VERY close to doing it when I threw my place together here. Just for backup for power outages and in case of this kind of situation. I'm too lazy and cheap though ! I do have the infrastructure for such a setup in place though should I ever have to go with one . I wasn't that lazy...

SO far Flathead Elec has been the most reasonable Elec Co I have ever dealt with. But I've only dealt with real thieves for electric my whole life and maybe they are just the least greedy of all the thieves I've dealt with. Probably the case . But if Flathead ever gets considerably more greedy... Diesel genset here I come !
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:38 PM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,921 posts, read 5,807,734 times
Reputation: 8319
I can go one better on this one.

I am trying to site a small wind/hydro generation plant. It was originally planned for 200kw production. I talked to one of the co-ops, and all they could handle was 100kw. OK, I can downsize.

Next was the existing transmission lines. There isn't a line heavy enough into the area where I have access to the building site. The co-op indicated they would have to run the lines into the area. Fine.
Problem is, it would cost them several hundred thousand to do that, and they don't have the money.

OK...How much could the lines handle?


That is roughly enough to run 2 to 3 residential houses. Plus, the going rate I would get paid for production is about 3.6 CENTS per kilowatt hour.

Why bother??

The problem isn't that the energy can't be produced at a reasonable price, the problem is that the lines cannot handle production unless you are working in an area where the infrastructure is such that the only places you can tap into to sell your power, are places where generation plants already exist!!

I still have one site in the works, but I am going to run into the same problems again. If the co-op will work with me, I can provide a lot of the power they need with "green" methods at a lower rate than what Northwest energy is charging them. The plans are solid, feasablity study is in the works with no problems so far with my figures, so with luck, I will start construction either later this summer or early fall to build an electrical generation plant supplying 200 kw of electricity initially, completely from renewable sources. And as it is not just a wind or solar system, I don't have to rely on batteries and it won't matter if the sky is cloudy or if it is a windless day.

One last note, Don't burn straight vegetable oil in your engines, the glycerine will gum up the works something fierce!

It isn't hard to refine the oil into usable diesel, and I would recommend doing it to prevent destroying your engine.

I have done a lot of work in the "alternative" energy field. Mostly because I felt I was being ripped off by the old Montana Power Company. I learned a lot the hard way, and have the junk pile of experiments and failed designs to prove it.
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Old 03-11-2009, 10:42 PM
Location: NW MT
1,436 posts, read 2,925,410 times
Reputation: 548
Originally Posted by MTSilvertip View Post
One last note, Don't burn straight vegetable oil in your engines, the glycerine will gum up the works something fierce!

It isn't hard to refine the oil into usable diesel, and I would recommend doing it to prevent destroying your engine.
No doubt ! I've done a bit of research on it and plan on "refining" it for sure .

Was talking to a guy not too long ago that has been burning new "refined" veggie oil for the last couple years in his Ford powerstroke. When diesel was almost $5 a gallon he was running his rig for $1.5 a gallon . And to date has not had one issue with it. I've been looking at a powerstroke myself... gonna get away from gasoline all together here before long. Hopefully within the next month or two.

What kind of budget do you have figured for your power plant ? Can't be anything "cheap"... 200 kw wind generator alone is a fortune...
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Old 03-12-2009, 09:42 PM
Location: Where the mountains touch the sky
4,921 posts, read 5,807,734 times
Reputation: 8319
Wind turbines as such are prohibitively expensive, not to mention they need an average windspeed of 16 mph to work at optimum efficency.

A small turbine to power a single dwelling can cost upwards of $10,000 dollars, and that isn't counting the cost of batteries or wiring and converters. You also need a double breaker system that can lock the system open and offline if you are "reverse metering" and still connected to the power grid. This breaker system is for the protection of linemen who need to work on the lines but have no direct control over your system. Liability concerns also come into play here.

Add on top of the system cost, if you are off the grid, you will need a gas or diesel generator for backup.
You are resposible for upkeep and maintenance so unless you are truely committed to the process, save your money.

When you are talking about systems like I work with, the costs can be astronomical, not to mention sighting concerns. You have to be in an area where your facility and equipment won't damage the "visual landscape".

For most people, small scale production is expensive, difficult and time consuming. You have to learn not only how to operate your chosen system, but also how to fix it and keep it operational. Some people have installed small systems using for instance solar, with banks of batteries, and wired their house for 12 volt DC to avoid the inverter losses. Once installed, it will pay for itself over time, but it can be a long time, and maintenance can be expensive as well.

Of all the options out there for individuals wanting a little break from prices, the bio-diesel is probably the most feasible.

There are problems inherent in the product, most can be offset by refining and blending with petro-diesel. It is still time consuming, and you do need some equipment to do the refining, but it is the simplest process of the alternatives.

There are risks, you do use lye in the process, but it is not as dangerous as working with a solar cell that can't be shut off as long as there is light!
Or the more efficient cells that use Boron or Germainium which is lethal if inhaled.

If somebody has a specific question about this stuff, I would be happy to answer it if I can. I have quite a bit of experience with most of the systems readilly available to the general public, and some that aren't.
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