Bill, I couldn't help but chuckle at your local utility co. calling and asking if anyone still lived there. Good for you.
I partially heat with coal or wood (some from my own land). Statistics, supposedly show that less than 1% of homes do so, so they say the environmental impact is not too great (no "scrubbers" on the chimney, but I'm set up to burn hot and relatively clean - often no burning wood odor outside; now, my neighbor, that's another story - needs more O2 to his stove).
Now get this...
Up this way they have just this year introduced a conflicting set of values. For years they've been telling us to conserve, conserve, conserve... and given us advice on how to do so.
Conserving is NOT bad advice by any means. Well,... just this year they convinced the State legislature to make some changes, amongst which are a rate hike (understandable), and, now...get this... a higher rate for those who are conserving and don't use their fair share of electricity!!! Yes, you heard me right! So, those conserving, and also small inner city apartments (largely occupied by lower income individuals and families) are going to be getting, I think it was up to a 33% overall increase (don't quote me on the numbers, but it was quite a bit higher than the VOLUME discount users of electricity). Those who can afford it least are getting hit the most, IMHO. Talk about an incentive to not conserve electricity. There is actually a "cut-off", NOT a continuum. So, if someone possibly can use just a little more, they get into the next "bracket" and save. I just had to call the local elec. co. and talk to them b/c I couldn't believe what I was reading in the mailing they sent us. Unlike my writings, the mailing was well worded and yes, a conflicting set of values concerning conservation now exists.
Got to hand it to the utility co. Still scratching my head about our elected officials and the voters who unknowingly elected these geniuses to public office.
Well, that's my rant for the day.