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On Tuesday night, the county council passed two ordinances, which have the effect of penalizing citizens for conservation of water and gas. The ordinances increase the “service charge,” the fixed-rate “tax” paid every month by every consumer regardless of usage. In the case of natural gas this increase was close to 50 percent. Increasing the service charge runs counter to the county taxpayer funded message of conservation.
The justification for the service charge is that there is a fixed infrastructure cost for delivering gas to a customer regardless of usage. The fixed charge, plus a “commodity charge” based on usage, makes up your bill. However, all retail businesses have fixed charges, only the monopoly utilities are able to pass these on to the consumer independently of the commodity charge.
The local filling stations have fixed infrastructure cost in terms of gas pumps, tanks, buildings, a cashier, etc. They do not charge you a “service charge” plus a commodity charge. If fuel stations charged $30 plus 50 cents a gallon, few people would pay the premium cost for a fuel efficient car since there would be minimal offsetting savings at the pump.
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