# Math Gurus, please step up.

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##### Catching up and tripping all over myself.
Names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent!

I work as the utility billing supervisor of a small city.

A customer asked me a question that stumped me.

He has 2 electric meters, house and garage.

The house used 1000 kwh for \$98.50.

The garage used 500 kwh for \$53.50.

He asked why do I come up with a different cost per kwh?

I explain that you have to take away the "base fee" or "readiness to serve charge" of \$8.50, then divide and you'll come up with the same cost per kwh.

I said 'because that's the way it works'.

He says 'why'.
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.
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What is a good explanation of the mathematical principles for this type of situation?

Nine cents per kilowatt hour,right? Why don't you just show them on paper?

Sorry but this guy may qualify for the Darwin award.

If he cannot understand his bill, then he sure as heck will never get it by you trying to show him an answer using math.

There is a Base charge for each service line he has, followed by a KW usage charge. Tell him that they treat his house and his garage, which are obviously on their own seperate meters, as two different residences. He will pay the base charge for each, just as if he was paying on two houses. The charge covers maintenance of each meter and of each set of lines running to the home. The bill would be exactly half if they only charged you HALF the base charge for the garage...which is not the case.

If he still doesn't get it...stop trying because he never will.

Carl

Tell him it is exactly the same situation as if he had two different phone *lines*, with different phone numbers in the house and the garage. Each month he would have to pay a basic service fee for each one but the cost of his long distance calls would be the same whether he made the call from the house or the garage.

I tend to agree with Carl on this one. I think another possible answer would be to show him what his bill would be if he didn't use ANY electricity at all. It would still have the base fee for service and maintenance. Explain to him that no matter how much power he uses, the company still has to pay someone to go out and maintain those lines to his house.

Explain to him that it's just like renting a car: Even if he doesn't drive it, he still has to pay for it. Same as cable TV service or phone service - even if he doesn't use it, he still has to pay for a basic availability fee that covers the cost of making sure that everything works properly.

If he still gets huffy about it, tell him that the company could run such that it didn't charge to maintain anything, but if something broke, he'd have to fix it himself, and you certainly couldn't expect Grandma Mabel to go out and fix her own underground power connections!

WW

Forget math. Tell him it is the same reason a woman's haircut costs more than a man's.

He says 'why'.

It's a Gubment conspiracy!!

Tell him you charge him \$8.50/ meter to read each meter, you tack on kilowatts on top of the \$8.50. That should send him through the roof. ;-)

When he says he'll read it himself for free, tell him that's your job, part of each \$8.50 goes to you. Then hold the phone way away from your ear.

I don't know that it makes him a future possible Dawiner, as he's not happy and won't think clearly until he's settled down. Furious people don't always think clearly.

wish my bill was that low...

Originally posted by illini
Forget math. Tell him it is the same reason a woman's haircut costs more than a man's.

The most simple way to explain it is to tell him to look at his bill.
I don't know about your electric bills out there but mine break down exactly what I am being charged for.
PS: I too have 2 seperate meters, 1 for the house and 1 for the garage.

Originally posted by missileman
The most simple way to explain it is to tell him to look at his bill.
I don't know about your electric bills out there but mine break down exactly what I am being charged for.
PS: I too have 2 seperate meters, 1 for the house and 1 for the garage.

Y'all have probably been de-regulated (or "RE-regulated" as we like to call it in the power biz), that's where EVERYTHING is broke out seperately, except the 'cost of breaking it out seperately'. In the phone biz, it's those charges that you have no idea what they're for. We just lump it all together, generation, transmission, distribution, metering, meter reading, billing, collection, losses, earnings...

California was our God-send, we thought it was sort of humerous, but they really got screwed, BIG TIME. I really think someone's going to go to jail over that. There should be no reason that we cannot supply energy anywhere in this country. Somebody was playing very unfair when they went through the brown-outs last summer.

Yes, the power biz has some very strict needs when it comes to doing business, "you cannot sell more than what you have, or EVERYBODY goes dark," but it was out there, they just played hardball when it came to supply and demand, and the suppliers set unrealistic or illegal prices!

Wow, that turned out to be a venting process. Sorry about that.
I just can't stand seeing somebody get screwed like that.

Unfortunately, there is a "dark side" to the California story as well.

Out here, we've had a steadily growing number of folks, and also a steadily growing appetite for electricity. Not only do residents need power, but industry does as well. But we haven't built any new power generation facilities in a couple decades.

If we try to build a coal facility, we are told that the coal soot harms the environment.

If we try to build a natural gas facility, we are told that the natural gas is too dangerous and that it harms the environment.

If we try to build a nuclear facility, we run the risk of a meltdown, and that would harm the environment.

If we try to build a wind farm (which we did, in Altamont Pass a while back), birds fly into the windmills, get killed, and that harms the environment.

If we try to build a hydroelectric dam, that stops up spawning routes for fish populations, as well as destroying wildlands both upriver and downriver, and that harms the environment.

If we try to build a geothermal facility, it messes up the water table, and that harms the environment.

If we try to build a solar facility out in the desert, local flora and fauna are affected by the change in shade/sunlight patterns, and that harms the environment.

As you can see, we have quite a dilemma.

WW

Originally posted by wwattles

.... and that it harms the environment.

WW
Interestingly, all of the Environmentalists want electric cars..........

Names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent!
...
He asked why do I come up with a different cost per kwh?

I explain that you have to take away the "base fee" or "readiness to serve charge" of \$8.50, then divide and you'll come up with the same cost per kwh.

I said 'because that's the way it works'.

He says 'why'.
.
What is a good explanation of the mathematical principles for this type of situation?

You don't need math, you need logic.

Call it "meter rental". He has to pay rent on the meter, and THEN he has to pay for the power used.

The REASON it is this way is that the meter costs the same whether you use 1 or 1000 kWH.

Once he gets that you can (if you wish) tell him that it's not strictly meter rental, but includes what amounts to a monthly maintanence fee should the wire to his meters require work, it covers the cost of billing, and so on. Even people with a summer cottage who use it only 3 months out of the year need to pay their share for the meter and lines which exist and suffer weather wear and require maintanence, even though the meter doesn;t run for 9 of the months.

Tell him that if you raised the kWH prices across the board so that you had your costs covered strictly by the kWH power charge for his garage meter, he'd be paying MORE for his house, and that wouldn't be fair. If that doesn't bring a smile to his face, give up before you develop a valium deficiency.

Names and faces have been changed to protect the innocent!

I work as the utility billing supervisor of a small city.

A customer asked me a question that stumped me.

He has 2 electric meters, house and garage.

The house used 1000 kwh for \$98.50.

The garage used 500 kwh for \$53.50.

He asked why do I come up with a different cost per kwh?

I explain that you have to take away the "base fee" or "readiness to serve charge" of \$8.50, then divide and you'll come up with the same cost per kwh.

I said 'because that's the way it works'.

He says 'why'.
.
.
.

What is a good explanation of the mathematical principles for this type of situation?

He's either got a problem with the math or with the idea of "paying for nothing" (I know, he isn't paying for nothing, since the base charge covers maintenance of the power lines to his service panel, etc.)

If it is the math, break it down for him...

1000 kwh * \$0.09/kwh = \$90.00
1 hookup * \$8.50/hookup = \$8.50

\$90.00 + \$8.50 = \$98.50

500 kwh * \$0.09/kwh = \$45.00
1 hookup * \$8.50/hookup = \$8.50

\$45.00 + \$8.50 = \$53.50

You can also try showing him the math when the electric usage is zero, though I doubt this will help all that much. Go through the above math with a calculator, step by simple step (his real problem may be that he doesn't understand simple multiplication and it is difficult to trust what you don't understand without a whole lot of faith).

If his problem is with "paying for nothing," well... it isn't nothing. I don't know if your customers pay for their own electric meters, and/or the power line from the pole to the house/garage, but even if the customer pays for the initial installation and parts, there is still periodic maintenance, replacing said power lines when some bozo cuts down a tree and pulls them down, etc. Plus the salaries of the meter readers, the guys who are forced to answer questions from the more mathematically challenged, and of course, the bosses of the meter readers and question answerers.

Years ago I went to a local nursery to buy some topsoil.
They were selling topsoil by the cubic yard.
I brought my little trailer which was 48" x 44" x18"

OK for clarity let's say my trailer was 4' x 4' x 1.5' =24 cu ft right?

27 cu. ft to a cu. yard right?

That's what I thought until it came time to pay.

The owner comes out and tells me that I will be charged for 2 cu yard.

I asked why. Because the math tells me my trailer filled level to the top is only 24 cu. ft...less than a cu. yard.

He dissagrees...he tells me the following...get this!

There are 8 shovelfulls to the bushel and 12 bushels to the cu. yard. He counted the "shovelfulls" so he KNOWS! that my trailer holds 2 cu. yards!

I emptied my trailer in his parking lot and left!

I never knew that a "shovelfull" was a unit of measure...maybe in Malaysia!

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