This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 14, 2003 11:25 AM. The previous post in this blog was "He knows where he is". The next post in this blog is Hosts with the mosts. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, November 14, 2003

They give me gas

We got an interesting insert in the natural gas bill this month. No, not smelling salts to revive me after seeing the amount due, but instead a little pamphlet explaining that the way they charge for gas is about to change.

Apparently, the gas company, NW Natural, is starting a new billing system called "WARM" (which as I recall is German for "GAY"). In this case, it's a cutesy acronym for Weather Adjustment Rate Mechanism. What it means is, when the winter's unusually mild and people use less gas, they're going to jack up your bill from what it would have been before WARM took over. "Slightly." When the winter's unusually cold, they're going to trim the bill down a bit. Again, "slightly."

How slightly? They don't say. How about a number example? Nowhere to be found in the little insert. They do emphasize over and over, though, that "you will be paying NW Natural just what it costs the company to serve you -- no more and no less." Ummm, and did we forget a wee little mention of some shareholder profit, too, fellas?

There's a web page on this over on the NW Natural site. But it doesn't get too much more specific than the little guy that came in the mail. So it's hard to tell how to react.

But react you must if you don't want to go WARM. The switchover to the new system is automatic, unless the customers opts out and specifies that he or she wants to continue to be billed the old-fashioned way -- so much per therm, with no weather-related adjustment. On its web site, NW Natural brags that other utilities have gone WARM with no notice and no chance to opt out. Here in Oregon, you get that opportunity. But if you don't say no to WARM by December 31, you'll be stuck with it 'til next November.

I have been known to rag on gimmicks like this. I like my utilities regulated, and I get uncomfortable when customers with a seventh-grade education are supposed to learn the nuances of utility ratemaking just to have a farookin' furnace.

But hey, at least we can opt out if we want. I'll probably stay in. I'm too busy blogging to deal with it.

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