As you may remember, dear Reader, I have been bemoaning the unusual cool temperatures we’ve been having here in the San Joaquin Valley. There are consequences for the strange weather, some good, but some bad.
This is the number one agriculture spot in the nation; our whole economy depends on our water, soil, and warm temperatures. This year we’ve had the water, and the soil hasn’t blown away, but the cool air is keeping the fruit from ripening and thwarting the growth of so many crops. The cotton is just standing out in its fields, shivering. You’ve heard about corn growing so fast, overnight, that you can hear it. The cornfields on the west side of the valley are silent. The ground is too wet to dig potatoes and onions. Basil and peppers are not growing. The grapes will have a hard time getting their sugar levels high enough for raisins.
I received my first box of CSA stone fruit yesterday–peaches, nectarines, and plums–that should be soft to the touch. Instead, rock hard. The big storm we had Sunday night has caused major damage to stone fruit and there is fear some of the crop will be completely lost. The winds and rain caused skin damage and mold and mildew is setting in. That is the bad news.
The good news, on the other hand, is that for the first time in history, the Zody household electric usage did not go over the baseline amount. By now, PG&E has changed the rates to reflect the usual hot weather we have, thus calling for the use of air conditioning. No air conditioning needed. However, our gas usage was double the baseline for this time of the year because the heater should have gone off and stayed off. Didn’t happen until this morning. So, we had a fairly low power bill.
Because I like a warm/cool home; I like a refrigerator; I like lights that come on at a flick of the switch; I like the convenience of the microwave, dishwasher, and dryer; I like a hot shower and a plug for my hairdryer; and, lest I forget, the box where I plug this wonderful computer that I especially like. All these things that I like take power, and I can thank Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for providing the power, right to my house, and now to my tiny apartment.
In Fresno, at the house, we have gas and electricity as our heating and water heater are gas powered. Everything else in the house is electric. The tiny apartment, on the other hand, is all electric. Two locations, but one bill that comes once a month. Both places have smart meters, which some people have been opposed to, but not us. We think the smart meters are the best as our old meter was not calibrated correctly. Things wear out, people. New technologies can do a better job. My one complaint is that it has done away with the meter reader. I just hope they developed another job for that person to do.
Because it’s HOT in Fresno, we get a larger electrical allowance in the summer to help with the air conditioning costs. The baseline is 509 Kwhs per month for the next three months. We will go over this and pay a higher fee for the usage above that amount. This past month was very cool, though, so we only used 375 Kwhs. Low bill.
Because it’s NOT hot in San Francisco, our electric allowance drastically dropped as of June 1. Whereas we had a baseline of 334 Kwhs in the winter months due to electrical heating, we only have 89 as the baseline for summer months. That will run the refrigerator. It will still be a smaller bill than what we have in Fresno. Every time the air conditioner kicks on, I can feel the money draining away. But, I like my cool home, so I will gladly pay the bill. I cannot imagine life without the power company.