No Way to Calculate your own Electric Bill in Georgia? And Why I’m switching to the Smart Usage from the Plug-In EV plan

Summary: There is not enough information provided on your electric bill to verify if you are being charged correctly.

Cause: There are two items on the tariff sheets that are not reported and, it appears, there is no way for a normal person to know their costs.

These are:
Demand Side Management Schedule is described as “The amount calculated at the above rate will be increased under the provisions of the Company’s effective Demand Side Management Residential Schedule, including any applicable adjustments”.
and
Fuel Cost Recovery is described as “The amount calculated at the above rate will be increased under the provisions of the Company’s effective Fuel Cost Recovery Schedules in the manner ordered by the Georgia Public Service Commission, including any applicable adjustments”.

This came up when I was reviewing my electric bill to see if the “Plug-in Electric Vehicle” rate, to which I currently subscribe, is the best option for my use patterns.

Georgia Power has 6 rate plans. Two of which (Flat Bill and PrePay) I dismissed immediately as being of no value to me. The remaining ones all had potential so I created a spreadsheet to contrast the amounts I would have paid under those plans compared with what I actually paid.

I took the last 12 months of bills and put them into a spreadsheet. Since I am already on the Plug in EV plan I already had my peak, off peak and super off peak hours broken out for me to simplify the calculations.

I also assumed that the crap fees (Environmental cost recovery, Nuclear boondoggle, Municipal Franchise fee, Tax and the monthly basic service charge) would be about the same regardless of my plan since most of these are based on my energy consumption.

When I first began my calculations I was pretty happy with the results as it looked like there was a tremendous potential for saving money by switching to a different plan. However, to my dismay, I found that the calculations for the rate plan I currently have also gave results that were significantly lower than what I’m actually paying.

I reviewed my formulas a bunch of times and had to conclude that Georgia Power was adding something into the per kilowatt charges that was not obvious on the main part of the bill. Enter the Demand Side Management Schedule and Fuel Cost Recovery items that I finally noticed in the lawyer section of the document.

By my figuring, for the past year, those two items accounted for cost increases on the power portion of the bill of from 21% (last October) up to 59% (last February) over and above the actual published rates.

In real dollars this means I paid $21.40 more on a bill totaling $124.83 up to $58.05 more on a bill totaling $157.06.

Suffice it to say I am not impressed.

So I have no way to really know how much I will pay for electricity under ANY of these plans since it appears Georgia Power can charge pretty much any amount the PSC will let them and I can have no knowledge of that.

The inability to actually calculate the costs of future bills notwithstanding, I can at least get a feel for the *relative* cost differences between the various plans.

Almost universally, the Residential plan is the worst for me.

Likewise Nights & Weekends will not do my wallet any favors although it’s much better than Residential.

Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. It took me a long time to figure out what the “Smart Usage” plan was doing. The description kept going on about needing to split up your high energy uses so as not to consume a lot of power at once. But the mechanism they were using to determine this wasn’t clear to me.
Then I understood. This section here:

DETERMINATION OF BILLING DEMAND:
Maximum kW: Maximum kW shall be the highest 30-minute kW measurement during the current month.

Means that you are essentially punished for the entire month for your highest amount of consumption at a single point in the month regardless of whether you are using the energy in the middle of a hot summer afternoon, or at 2 in the morning, you will pay a premium of $6.64 per kilowatt for the month for that spike.

I am able to charge my car at work many days but if I choose to charge it at home at the maximum power available to me (50 amp service at 240 volts * .8 (max sustained draw) which is 9.6 kW that means a premium on my bill of $63 even if I do it only once during the month.

But I’m able to lower the rate of consumption through my car’s charging controls. Since most of the time I don’t need the car charged *that* fast, I can simply drop it down to

So theoretically I can charge my 75 kWh battery from absolutely empty, assuming about 85% efficiency, in 18.4 hours rather than 9.2 hours and reduce my hit by about $31 from Georgia Power.
Keep in mind that it’s pretty rare for me to ever get below 45% charge, so those times change from 7.8 hrs and 15.6 hrs at 40 and 20 amps respectively to about 5.2 and 10.4 hours which is very comfortable.

Of course there can be other high consumption appliances running when I’m charging my car, so I just need to set my car schedule to off hours and make sure those items don’t conflict. For me the next biggest consumer of power in the house will be my pool pump. So I will just schedule it outside of the car charging hours. Between that and ensuring that the clothes dryer isn’t running at 3 in the morning should keep things pretty simple.

For reference I include links to the Tariff sheets (plus pdf copies I have in case the links go stale).
Nights & Weekends (Link to permanent PDF)
Plug-in EV (Link to permanent PDF)
Residential (Link to permanent PDF)
Smart Usage (Link to permanent PDF)

Informal Speed Clocking For Tesla

So, apparently I haven’t figured out how to use Dashboard for Tesla‘s Speed Clocking app as I did a few trials today and then completely did not manage to save them.

Dashboard for Tesla’s Speed Clocking screen

However just to note, my 5,000 lb SUV clocked in at:
5.0 Seconds for 0-60 MPH, and
14.75 Seconds for the 1/4 mile.

I think the 0-60 time is pretty accurate. I bollocksed up the 1/4 mile by ending up going UPHILL for a portion of it.

Just preliminary but was pretty happy with the times nonetheless.

Tesla – 18 months in

I picked up my Tesla Model X 75D in July of 2017.

We walked into the Tesla Showroom in the Avalon on impulse as it was on the way to another store that Michelle was wanting to check out.

At the time I had zero awareness that Tesla was producing an SUV and, frankly, only a dim awareness of what they were trying to accomplish, period.

I had bought my 2009 Honda CR-V used about 6 years earlier and was not really thinking about a new car quite yet. I usually prefer to drive my cars for 10+ years before I start to chomp at the bit for a new one.

But this car was checking off all the right boxes:

  • Large, comfortable interior
  • Room to carry significant amounts of stuff when needed
  • Room for 6 people comfortably
  • 200+ miles range (well, I would have been happier with 300+ but… you can’t have everything)
  • One of the most technologically advanced cars on the planet
  • (recently proven) the safest SUV in America and quite possibly globally

So, after some significant soul-searching and not just a little bit of math (helped a LOT by this guy), I put down my deposit and ordered a new car.

As luck would have it the car would take a couple of months to produce and I had a pressing need to get the car sooner. So we explored the Tesla inventory – basically cars that had been ordered and were either being used for test drives or, for whatever reason, that the folks ordering decided not to take. Because I was taking an existing inventory vehicle, I was able to get it for a pretty significant discount (> 10%). I also ended up with a feature that I had not intended to get but now love: the Self-Presenting doors.

I also had not intended to get the Premium Sound System and, truth be told – since I mostly listen to podcasts at a modest volume, can’t tell if this is any advantage for me or not.

In case you’re wondering, “75 D” means I have a 75 kilowatt hour battery and dual motors – one at the front and one at the rear.

Together those motors offer me 518 Horsepower where the wheel meets the road as well as instant and unbelievable acceleration for a 5,000 pound car.

With the Tesla Supercharging network in place, I can go most places in North America (wherever there are interstates) with zero planning whatsoever. Tesla was the first Electric auto maker to make this a reality.

I have travelled from Fort Meyers, Florida, to just South of Algonquin Park, Ontario and as far East as Virginia Beach. I still haven’t found a reason to travel out West, but I’m sure I’ll come up with one.

The car is a dream to drive and has rekindled my enjoyment of driving. Dare I say it’s even more fun than the motorcycles of my youth?

As icing on the cake, the Autopilot features (really driving assist) are wonderful for taking the edge off both long-haul trips and traffic jams where the car can do the bulk of the more monotonous driving and the fiddly stop-and-go nonsense and leave the fun parts to me.

I had a fellow comment to me that he had looked at the Tesla but didn’t feel the fit and finish was what he expected for a car of that cost. Since I had not been born with a silver spoon in my mouth I did not have those sensibilities or expectations. But regardless, he completely missed the point. With a Tesla, you’re certainly paying a premium, but that premium is for the points I outline above.

Beyond that, I absolutely understand that part of what I’m investing in is the future of the automobile, the future of energy and hopefully the future of the planet as a whole. There is so much innovation happening on so many fronts *just* with Tesla (Car Sales, Feature Upgradeability, Automotive Safety, Autonomous Driving, Energy Efficiency, Travel Energy Infrastructure, and on and on) that I am absolutely willing to support that. Then consider the other Elon missions out there, SpaceX being my next favorite, and I am happy that I can contribute in some small way to shake up as many industries as possible and maybe even help reset some of our industrial and exploration priorities.

I was *very* nervous when I made this substantial commitment. Prior to this I was always a “top-of-the-bottom-of-the-line” kind of guy. The luxury car had no appeal to me. But this is one package deal that I absolutely do not regret.