Cartoon: Sam Bennett. Photo: Supplied
Dear Mr Power Co,
Thank you so much for sending me our quarterly electricity bill of $841.25. I did a quick household head count. There are two of us and we use gas except for the electric oven and the clothes dryer. As I don’t dry towels, just knickers, I’m wondering if I should stop washing and simply buy new knickers then chuck ’em.
Naturally, I did a house search looking for any illegal marijuana crops in a spare bedroom. Those artificial lights chew up the power. No luck there, sadly, just when I needed the crop to pay the bill.
There is one other occupant namely Tuppence, our dog. Tuppence is not a big power consumer. She can’t reach a light switch. I told her, however, it’ll be her duty to keep us warm on those bitterly cold three-dog nights next winter, tough work for a Mini-Schnauzer.
Meanwhile, Mr Power Co, I’m writing to let you know how I plan to pay the $841.25 power bill you sent me.
Plan 1: Buy a power company
Yeah! I’ve gotta get myself a power company. That’s the way to print money. Electricity prices have gone up 60 per cent in three years. We should wipe the Queen off our $5 note and put on a light bulb. It’s not just the killer-kilowatt hours that push up the profits. The power companies are raking in 21 per cent profit on gold-plating the power grid with fancy poles, frilly lines and swanky sub-stations. Forget the solar-panel rorts and the pink batt debacle. This is the dodgiest green program of all. Push down power consumption using record profits for power companies. I want in. I just need to extend my Visa credit limit by a few billion dollars.
Plan 2: Get a job with a power company
Jobs with power companies are, like, so easy to get. Since 2006 the number of employees you and your mates have on your books, Mr Power Co, has risen from 35,000 to 71,000. Woweeee! How good is that! You just turn up and they give you a job. And you get an extra 26 per cent of your wage paid into your super by the company. I could be a linewoman. I can sing ”Wichita Lineman is still on the li-iiii-ine”. I reckon I’d earn my $841.25 in, maybe, five minutes.
Plan 3: Steal copper line
With my linewoman skills, I could shimmy up a pole outback somewhere and cut the line. How many kilometres of copper line equals $841.25? Just let me know.
Plan 4: Sell Smart-Arse Meters
OK. Here’s the deal. I’m going into competition. You want Smart Meters. They’re monsters. You can charge any rate you want any time and cut us off remotely. No more major blackouts. You can spread it round. Well, you can shove your kilowatt hours up your anal network. The Smart-Arse Meter will tell you when off-peak charges apply. So consumers can really save money.
Plan 5: Litigate
You said, Mr Power Co, if I joined your little outfit I’d save heaps. Five per cent as I recall. So how much did I save on the $841.25? Um, $11.43. That is 1.3 per cent. You’re goin’ down. I’ll get a joint action going. You’ll pay, matey.
Plan 6: Stop using electricity
It can be done. At Chez Cue it’ll be candles, cold showers, cold tea and coffee and cold oven-fried chips. Or, I could chuck the oven-fried chips on the barbie. And for heat in winter, I’ll stoke up the old wood fire using all the bullshit marketing leaflets you send me.
Plan 7: Buy off-shore power
I haven’t totally worked this one out. But I figure if I can run an extension cord to New Zealand, I’ll be laughing. I might even sell you some power. Ha! Some real competition. That’d be nice.
Plan 8: Emigrate
We’ve taken a lot of immigrants from Europe and it’s time to reverse the trend. I’m off to France. They never sold off their power supplies. The Electricite de France (EDF) not only owns the French system, it is one of the top six owners of British power supplies. Ha! So heaps of profit being squeezed out of British power consumers goes to the French government. Oh les idiots! It’s too crazy in Britain. When local electrical chaps fiddle with power lines in London the profit goes to east Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing in Hong Kong, when they fix lines in north-east England the profit goes to Warren Buffett, in Birmingham to the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company and, you’ll be glad to hear, in Manchester to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. In Australia, lots of profit goes to Singapore. Why couldn’t the Commonwealth Bank buy our own power stations and lines?
Plan 9: Don’t pay bill
The idea is that you, Mr Power Co, will have to come to our place and take your pound of flesh. Remember once, when it was fair profit for fair service. That idea has gone to the coal-fired hell in a hand basket.
Plan 10: Take out a contract on you, Mr Power Co
There will be a tipping point when it will be cheaper to hire a hit man than pay the bill. Think about that, you bastard.
Account Number: <9000600006500523>