So what’s with this surcharge Empire Electric?

I just love how the utilities (electric and water in this local) love to obfuscate and make foggy that which should be a simple method of billing. Have you noticed how they never seem have a simple rate or methodology of charging their customer base? There’s never an opportunity for the paying customer to get a good handle on what he or she is being asked to pay for the elusive electron that burns their toast and makes their coffee. Especially aggravating are the situations when you are getting charged by a utility for which there is no (easy) alternative. Virtual monopolies like our ubiquitous providers of electricity. While workarounds exist for services like water (drill your own well baby), there are few to no options when it come to electricity. Let’s take a look at a billing example, courtesy of the Empire Electric Company out of Joplin Missouri:

You’ll note that there are three distinct billings here. The first is a no-apologies customer charge of $12.52 which I will assume is what this company charges me for the privilege of doing business with them. Next, we have two seemingly identical charges for 600 kilowatt hours at $0.107 per kWh and then another 182 kilowatt hours at the same rate. I’ll go ahead and guess that is is a break point of some kind, but if so, why wasn’t there a different rate? Lastly, there is a ‘fuel charge’ for the total amount of electricity delivered times a rate of $0.00088. What exactly the hell is this? (Reminds me of Office Space movie where the character called Peter Gibbons conspires with other fellow office workers to take advantage of a ’rounding error’. They were shocked to see how fast that tiny amount added up)! Bet you the electric company isn’t.
That there are numerous and sundry items that can affect its costs is a fact of life for every business out there. I realized a company needs to make a fair profit, but I also understand that what keeps one company from making too much mullah is a little thing known as competition. Competition tends to keep prices competitive and uniform across the board. Unfortunately, that doesn’t hold for the providers of our electrical services. As I understand it, a monopoly like the one Empire Electric is now enjoying is supposed to be regulated by ‘The Missouri Public Service Commission’. A state government agency that regulates not only electric companies like Empire but also; investor-owned telecommunications, water and sewer, natural gas, and steam utilities. Known as PSC, you can reach them to complain (or ask for higher rates) at On one of their web pages, they go to great lengths to tell me that I am getting really cheap rates by living as I do in Missouri. But, that begs the question, doesn’t it. Am I really?

About forsythkid

I am just a simple man with a head full of sand who currently resides in a small town called Forsyth Missouri. I enjoy blogging and politics. I received my degree from SIU majoring in Biology in 1972 and still maintain a great interest in the study of all living things. My hobbies include meteorology and inhabiting cyberspace whenever possible.
This entry was posted in Danomanno, Editorial, Forsythkid and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s