Bonehead Policy of the Day

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I wasn’t sure how to title this, or where exactly I wanted this to go, but I wanted to at least share this story. Honestly, this can continue as discussion of my first post, or we can just get additional stupid/moronic news stories.

Anyway, I live in the North Carolina, and as some of you may know, we’ve been under a very severe drought for the past year or so (to the point that they thought we were going to run entirely out of drinking water a few times). So, the governor and the various affected counties sponsored a massive campaign to reduce water usage and conserve as much as possible. We were put under various water-use restrictions and encouraged to avoid things like washing cars/dogs.

Well, I’m happy to report that we’ve gotten more rain recently and we’re only in a fairly minor drought at this point. Additionally, the water-conservation efforts were, believe or not, a success! We’re actually using roughly 20% less water than we were last year. So, ready for the bonehead move of the day?

Apparently, because we’re using 20% less water, the utilities company is (gasp!) getting 20% less revenue. So, how do you fix this problem? You raise the price of water, of course! We’re being punished for conserving water as we were asked to do. My hand actually slapped my forehead when I heard this. I wish I were making it up…

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=6128247

(anyone know how to make a link with an ampersand in it work?)

 
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I don’t think it’s teh ampersand screwing you over… and you’ll have to use the html code for it. & I think…

EDIT: Wait, WHAT? Are you really really serious? Dude, you’re being charged for not using as much water?

 
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You could always just change the name of the link to whatever you want

like

Full report here

or whatever

Also yes that story is pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard today.

 
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That is just moronic. You guys should be rewarded, not punished. you’re being slapped around by this company for doing what they told you to do?!?

 
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That’s so ridiculous. It’s just like the recycling, you get a sticker on your bin if you dont put cardboard in the right bin and they wont take your bin, but they throw both bins into the same garbage truck anyway mixing them together.

And the government wonders why we don’t follow them loyally…

 
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In that case, loyally = blindly. And when you follow blindly, you get lost and walk into stuff, and eventually walk off a cliff or something stupid like that.

 
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This is shockingly common across the country.

Also, my uncle half-jokingly encourages the waste of household water. Apparently city planners design the size of new developments around how much water is available in the area. If there isn’t enough, they can’t build as much!

 
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i know you’re upset, Phoenix (i would be too), but what can you expect? the money to run the utilities has to come from somewhere. i know it sounds counter-intuitive but it’s probably a good thing that they need to raise the price. if they could absorb that much of a loss without raising prices, what does that say about the revenue they’ve been getting (hint: too much)?

So if my utilities is $400 per month (for using my heater, lights, etc) and they ask me to conserve energy (by turning off my heater and using blankets, putting low energy bulbs all over the house etc) and my bill goes down to $50, does that mean the utility company should raise my rate up so that they are still getting $400 from me even though I’m not using their product as much?

If water was hard to come by, the rates should have gone up then seeing as demand was high and supply was low. Raising them now shows they are only trying to maintain their gross revenue. That’s not entirely an evil thing for a company, but it’s a little different when it’s a mandatory product that people must have and they have been told to conserve it. They are definitely punishing residents for doing what they were told. I understand there are situations in business where demand affects cost and if demands get low enough costs much change; but in this situation there’s more involved. It is encouraging people to waste and shows they should not be concerned about conservation, since they will pay in the end.

Now residents cannot even go back to using the same amount of water they didnt before without paying a lot more.

On the flip side, if they are doing it just to stay afloat and the hike is relatively low, then it’s more understandable. I think what it comes down to is bad management (?). Had the city changed the price earlier and handled this situation a little differently, it may not taste so bad to residents. Or, if they lower it later when demand goes back up, if they lowered it then it would be nice – though we know they most likely wont.


Theorizing over this, here’s a comparison over what happened and what they could have chosen. Obviously there are problems with every choice; given that sutations like these are just not pleasant in general for anyone; but perhaps it could have been better. If you have a better idea or a modification to this, I’d like to hear it:

What happened

   ▪ Water is normal > Price is normal

   ▪ Drought occurs > No price change(?), despite low supply

   ▪ Residents are asked to conserve due to low supply

   ▪ Residents understand > Not pleasant, but understandable

   ▪ Residents conserve > City loses money

   ▪ Drought lessens > Price increases

   ▪ Residents are punished for conserving > Upset over ‘price hike’ despite hard work

   ▪ Residents cannot increase water use back to normal without paying much more than before

   ▪ Residents do not understand > Angry, not as understandable


Option 2

   ▪ Water is normal > Price is normal

   ▪ Drought occurs > Price goes up due to low supply

   ▪ Residents are told why prices are up and asked to conserve, both for cost and for supply reasons

   ▪ Residents understand > Not pleasant, but understandable, since for temporary reasons

   ▪ Residents conserve (for 2 reasons) > City still earns similar revenue

   ▪ Drought lessens > Price drops a little due to higher supply

   ▪ Residents commended and rewarded > Happy over hearing ‘price drop’ after hard work

   ▪ Residents increase water use again due to lower cost and more supply > City makes relatively same amount of money

   ▪ Residents understand > Happier than other option


I’d especially like to hear you thoughts on this Phoenix, seeing as you are one of the residents.

 
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To what extent is water privatised?

 
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“If water was hard to come by”…

Hmm… Yeah, it’s hard to get hold of that “water” stuff sometimes. It’s quite a rare chemical on the Earth, I gather. that must be why the companies make you pay so much for it.

Anyway, I agree, the company is to blame because of the management problems. If they had taken the blindingly obvious option 2, there wouldn’t be this problem.

 
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aC, about the second option: The water conservation laws were no longer legally enforcable, so they had no incentive to stay conservative, but they did. So the final outcome of option 2 would, in this case, not work.

Also, I don’t find it that crazy. It is a 50 cent increase per month of each person, and it is still costing them, overall, less than they conserved beforehand.

It also appears to be government owned water, not privatly owned, and they need the money to actually keep their water purifying facilities active (as far as I can see). The city needs to make money, people don’t pay much more (overall, they pay a slight bit less), so everybody wins. The city uses up less water in case of a future drought, and they get slightly lower revenues.

Also…

>So if my utilities is $400 per month (for using my heater, lights, etc) and they ask me to conserve energy (by turning off my heater and using blankets, putting low energy bulbs all over the house etc) and my bill goes down to $50, does that mean the utility company should raise my rate up so that they are still getting $400 from me even though I’m not using their product as much?

One person getting an 800% rate increase is not the same as the entire town getting a possible 6% rate increase (the 9% was already planned). Also, would you really care that much if your utility bill was actually around 30 dollars, and then it went down by 20% and went back up by a grand total of 50 cents per month? Using such an absurd example of a boneheaded policy isn’t the same as a city needing to get the money it has to have to run the service.

EDIT: I see you used the phrase “much more” a lot. I don’t know how much you get paid, but I really don’t think that 2 quarters a month is a whole lot.

 
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Mils, what are you on about?

 
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The topic. I really don’t see why everybody thinks it is the end of the world that they are using less water, paying less than before overall, and the city had to add a slight bit more cost per gallon of water (they are cheaper than most places anyway) to be functional.

 
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I’m just not really following your math, it’s not quite making sense… extrapolate please?

 
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The water consumption dropped 20%. The increase is a 9% that was planned before the consumption loss, and up to an additoinal 6%. That is a 15% increase in price for a 20% decrease in consumption, whish is a net gain for the consumer.

 
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What? How does that make sense? They saved 20% by not using that 20%. They then have to pay 15% more for the same amount. Not a gain at all.

I don’t know how much realisitically water costs, or how much water is typically used.

 
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A net profit is a net profit, TDF. Even with the same prices, they weren’t going back to normal usage. Increased prices is the only way for the city to cover their losses. It still is a net profit, regardless of how they saved 20%.

 
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Not really. Lets say a litre was 5.00, and you used 500 litres a month (not realistic, I know…) Now you have to cut down. You used to spend 2500 on water,but cutting down means you use 400 litres, at a cost of 2000. Now, you are allowed your normal usage, at a 15% increase in price, 6.75. That is 3375. If you keep as low as it was, it is 2700. You lose out either way, if my maths is correct.

 
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Once again, TDF, totally unreasonable changes are not the same as reasonable, small increases in price to support the city being able to give you water.

 
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aC, $400/month down to $50/month is very extreme and completely unreasonable to use in this sense. point taken but that’s blown way out of proportion.

Its not unreasonable at all. The point was not in the numbers, it’s in the actions taken. Focus on the point and not theoretical numbers. I would have made the same point had I said $400 down to $300 or something else.

Remember, we’re discussing the actions and choices and if you look at the rest of my comments in their entirety you’ll see more of what I was trying to get to. Don’t get distracted by totally hypothetical numbers and say it’s not a sensible statement because of only addressing the most irrelevant part of the comment.

Next time maybe I’ll use $x and $y.

 
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I don’t have a clue what you mean by that, my calculations show clearly that the consumer does not save money. It’s still a daft idea.

 
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>Its not unreasonable at all. The point was not in the numbers, it’s in the actions taken. Focus on the point and not theoretical numbers. I would have made the same point had I said $400 down to $300 or something else.

So you are trying to say a net savings of, if my calculations are correct, roughly 4% (which, with a 15% increase being 50 cents, probably about 12 cents) is the same as being charged 8 times the normal price? No, it is very much in the numbers, arcane. And the city does need the money to get the water out, which nobody seems to want to address.

>I don’t have a clue what you mean by that, my calculations show clearly that the consumer does not save money. It’s still a daft idea.

Multiply .8, the amount they are currently paying, by 1.15, the increase from the current payment. If it is above 1, they are charged more. If it is less than one, the net amount (after all deductions) is less. Even further, multiply it by 1.06, the actual amount the extra conservation was actually attributed too.

 
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arcane – Option 2 that you suggested would have made a lot of sense and I fully agree with your analysis. Supply goes down, demand stays the same (or only slightly goes down), so prices would go up. Yeah, it sucks, but it would make sense to the residents.

I think they had started considering increases during the drought, but it was near the end and we started to get rain at about that time. Additionally, they had set up some increases, but only for people who went over a certain amount (not applying to most houses I don’t think).

mils – While your math may be technically right, you’re ignoring the human factor. In this world, in many cases it’s the principle that matters, not the amount. Even if it’s only a small increase, the fact is that the government is punishing their residents for doing what they were asked to do. It sends the message that in the future we should ignore the government’s requests and that conservation is not supported by the government.

Additionally, you can’t call this “saving money”. The consumer did this because they wanted to help out the community, not to save money. They got used to paying the 20% less because they were using less. You’re doing the comparison to the wrong thing. People aren’t looking at what they spent last year, they’re looking at what they spent last month.

 
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>While your math may be technically right, you’re ignoring the human factor. In this world, in many cases it’s the principle that matters, not the amount. Even if it’s only a small increase, the fact is that the government is punishing their residents for doing what they were asked to do. It sends the message that in the future we should ignore the government’s requests and that conservation is not supported by the government.

I’m looking at the personal aspect, and I see them paying a total amount less or paying a slight bit more less and not having fully functional water supplies. I say the first option is better. I don’t see it as conservation not working, I see it as a business needing to operate, especially considering the direct increase from conservation is so small.

>Additionally, you can’t call this “saving money”. The consumer did this because they wanted to help out the community, not to save money. They got used to paying the 20% less because they were using less. You’re doing the comparison to the wrong thing. People aren’t looking at what they spent last year, they’re looking at what they spent last month.

Nope. Doesn’t matter. They still saved money since the protocals were put into effect, and regardless, it is saving money. If the consumer can’t look at the big picture and see that it is still a savings and the increase isn’t that much anyway, they have more problems than 50 cents more a month.

 
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Your maths is flawed, and so is your logic.