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South Plains EC News

Appreciating Electricity, One Penny at a Time

You can still get value for just a penny’s worth of electricity

I recently ran across a column written by Curtis Condon, editor of Ruralite magazine in Hillsboro, Oregon. His points were so enlightening, I thought I’d share them with you this month.

Some of us are old enough to remember when penny candy actually cost a penny.

But what does a penny buy these days? Not much. The government can’t even make a penny for a penny anymore. According to the U.S. Mint, it now costs 1.5 cents to produce one.

About the only thing of value that you can still get for a penny is electricity. I’m not kidding.

Let’s pretend the average rate for a kilowatt-hour of electricity is 10 cents. That’s 60 minutes of 1,000 watts of electricity for a dime, so a penny of electricity equates to 100 watts. It’s enough to power a 9-watt LED lightbulb—the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb—for 11 hours, all for only a penny.

The value is just as evident when powering things besides lighting. Take, for instance, your smartphone. Using the same 10 cents per kWh price, one penny’s worth of electricity allows you to fully charge your iPhone more than 18 times. You can charge it once every day of the year for about 20 cents total.

We are fortunate electricity is such an excellent value because we have a huge appetite for it. We tend to forget that.

Electricity is not expensive. The expense is due to our using it for so many different things: lighting, heating, cooking, cooling, refrigeration, cleaning, washing, pumping, entertainment, communications—even transportation these days.

Unfortunately, we don’t always appreciate it. When our monthly electric bill comes, we open it and might complain about the cost. It’s a knee-jerk reaction ingrained in us as consumers. We don’t stop to think about the value we receive for the money.

In 1940, when many co-ops were built, a penny had as much buying power as 17 cents today. This means the residential price of electricity—which now averages 12 cents a kWh nationally—is actually a better deal today than it was in 1940. And it won’t rot your teeth.