Ameren, Renewable Energy, and Time Travel
Several elements came together allowing me to write this blog post. The first was an ongoing series of articles from the Post-Dispatch and other outlets detailing the Missouri Clean Energy Initiative, scheduled for the upcoming November ballot. The second element was the electric bill I received from Ameren yesterday. And, finally, a few days ago I watched Back to the Future again — so Doc Brown has been on my mind a lot lately.
According to the Post article, the initiative’s sponsors released a study finding that, over time, as the percentage of power Missouri gained from renewable energy grew, the more money we would eventually save:
over a period of 20 years, an average utility bill of $80 a month would see a peak increase of 53 cents a month during the first four years the standard was in place. Over the course of 20 years, that home-owner would see a peak savings of $1.65.
This depends, of course, on all other factors remaining stable — such as amount of energy used, and the overall price rate. The Missouri Clean Energy Initiative has issued a brochure containing some useful facts.
Cheap energy sounds great, but 20 years is a long way away. I want to know what my options are now, and how much they would cost me. And what better tool to use in my research than Dr. Emmett Brown’s time machine?
As we all know, the DeLorean time machine’s flux capacitor requires 1.21 gigawatts of power to function. This is the same as saying 1,210,000 kilowatts of power. Now, while the average home in St. Louis city only uses between 1,000 and 4,000 kWh (kilowatts per hour), I feel as though the DeLorean time machine is an example we all know, love, and respect.
Now, if Doc Brown were to fire up the DeLorean today (in late September), he would be charged a rate of 7.92 cents per kWh. When you do all the crazy math (which I have), you find out it would cost Doc $95,839.50 to use the DeLorean one time during the summer months. Great Scott! When you add in the 12-percent proposed rate increase, his total reaches $107,340.24. Maybe stealing a sports almanac from the future isn’t such a bad idea anymore.
If Doc was to be patient, and use the DeLorean during the winter (October–May), he would be charged a rate of 5.62 cents for the first 750 kWh, and then 3.78 cents for each additional kWh. This comes to $45,759.05 — or $51,250.14 after the rate increase.
One would think a person as smart as Doc Brown would consider alternate, renewable energy options. Luckily for him, Ameren offers Pure Power options. As a resident, Doc would have the option of paying an additional 1.5 cent per kWh, or he could buy blocks of 1,000 kWh for $15 apiece. If Doc chose the “100% P.U.R.E.” energy block option, he would have to buy 1,210 blocks, paying only $18,150. This would cost much less, and he would have the satisfaction of knowing he’d gone green while time traveling.