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Definitions from http://www.eia.doe.gov/glossary/index.cfm:

Alternative fuel: Alternative fuels, for transportation applications, include the following:

  • methanol
  • denatured ethanol, and other alcohols
  • fuel mixtures containing 85 percent or more by volume of methanol, denatured ethanol, and other alcohols with gasoline or other fuels -- natural gas
  • liquefied petroleum gas (propane)
  • hydrogen
  • coal-derived liquid fuels
  • fuels (other than alcohol) derived from biological materials (biofuels such as soy diesel fuel)
  • electricity (including electricity from solar energy.)

"... any other fuel the Secretary determines, by rule, is substantially not petroleum and would yield substantial energy security benefits and substantial environmental benefits." The term "alternative fuel" does not include alcohol or other blended portions of primarily petroleum-based fuels used as oxygenates or extenders, i.e. MTBE, ETBE, other ethers, and the 10-percent ethanol portion of gasohol.

Ampere: The unit of measurement of electrical current produced in a circuit by 1 volt acting through a resistance of 1 Ohm.

Appliance efficiency standards: The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 established minimum efficiency standards for major home appliances, including furnaces, central and room air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, dishwashers, and heat pumps. Most of the standards took effect in 1990. The standards for clothes washers, dishwashers, and ranges took effect in 1988, because they required only minor changes in product design, such as eliminating pilot lights and requiring cold water rinse options. The standards for central air conditioners and furnaces took effect in 1992, because it took longer to redesign these products. Appliance efficiency standards for refrigerators took effect in 1993.

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British thermal unit: The quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of liquid water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at the temperature at which water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).

Btu: The abbreviation for British thermal unit(s).

Byproduct: A secondary or additional product resulting from the feedstock use of energy or the processing of nonenergy materials. For example, the more common byproducts of coke ovens are coal gas, tar, and a mixture of benzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTX).

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Carbon dioxide (CO2): A colorless, odorless, non-poisonous gas that is a normal part of Earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a product of fossil-fuel combustion as well as other processes. It is considered a greenhouse gas as it traps heat (infrared energy) radiated by the Earth into the atmosphere and thereby contributes to the potential for global warming. The global warming potential (GWP) of other greenhouse gases is measured in relation to that of carbon dioxide, which by international scientific convention is assigned a value of one (1). Also see Global warming potential (GWP) and Greenhouse gases.

Carbon dioxide equivalent: The amount of carbon dioxide by weight emitted into the atmosphere that would produce the same estimated radiative forcing as a given weight of another radiatively active gas. Carbon dioxide equivalents are computed by multiplying the weight of the gas being measured (for example, methane) by its estimated global warming potential (which is 21 for methane). "Carbon equivalent units" are defined as carbon dioxide equivalents multiplied by the carbon content of carbon dioxide (i.e., 12/44).

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Delivered cost: The cost of fuel, including the invoice price of fuel, transportation charges, taxes, commissions, insurance, and expenses associated with leased or owned equipment used to transport the fuel.

Delivered energy: The amount of energy delivered to the site (building); no adjustment is made for the fuels consumed to produce electricity or district sources. This is also referred to as net energy.

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EIA: The Energy Information Administration. An independent agency within the U.S. Department of Energy that develops surveys, collects energy data, and analyzes and models energy issues. The Agency must meet the requests of Congress, other elements within the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Executive Branch, its own independent needs, and assist the general public, or other interest groups, without taking a policy position.

Electric current: The flow of electric charge. The preferred unit of measure is the ampere.

Electric energy: The ability of an electric current to produce work, heat, light, or other forms of energy. It is measured in kilowatthours.

Electric expenses: The cost of labor, material, and expenses incurred in operating a facility's prime movers, generators, auxiliary apparatus, switching gear, and other electric equipment for each of the points where electricity enters the transmission or distribution grid.

Electric power grid: A system of synchronized power providers and consumers connected by transmission and distribution lines and operated by one or more control centers. In the continental United States, the electric power grid consists of three systems: the Eastern Interconnect, the Western Interconnect, and the Texas Interconnect. In Alaska and Hawaii, several systems encompass areas smaller than the State

Electric utility: Any entity that generates, transmits, or distributes electricity and recovers the cost of its generation, transmission or distribution assets and operations, either directly or indirectly, through cost-based rates set by a separate regulatory authority (e.g., State Public Service Commission), or is owned by a governmental unit or the consumers that the entity serves.

Energy: Energy has several forms, some of which are easily convertible and can be changed to another form useful for work. Most of the world's convertible energy comes from fossil fuels that are burned to produce heat that is then used as a transfer medium to mechanical or other means in order to accomplish tasks. Electrical energy is usually measured in kilowatthours, while heat energy is usually measured in British thermal units (BTU).

Energy savings: A reduction in the amount of electricity used by end users as a result of participation in energy efficiency programs and load management programs.

Energy service provider: An energy entity that provides service to a retail or end-use customer.

Energy source: Any substance or natural phenomenon that can be consumed or transformed to supply heat or power. Examples include petroleum, coal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass, electricity, wind, sunlight, geothermal, water movement, and hydrogen in fuel cells.

Energy supply: Energy made available for future disposition. Supply can be considered and measured from the point of view of the energy provider or the receiver.

Energy supplier: Fuel companies supplying electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, kerosene, or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) to the household.

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Greenhouse effect: The result of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other atmospheric gases trapping radiant (infrared) energy, thereby keeping the earth's surface warmer than it would otherwise be. Greenhouse gases within the lower levels of the atmosphere trap this radiation, which would otherwise escape into space, and subsequent re-radiation of some of this energy back to the Earth maintains higher surface temperatures than would occur if the gases were absent.

Green pricing: In the case of renewable electricity, green pricing represents a market solution to the various problems associated with regulatory valuation of the nonmarket benefits of renewables. Green pricing programs allow electricity customers to express their willingness to pay for renewable energy development through direct payments on their monthly utility bills.

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Independent power producer: A corporation, person, agency, authority, or other legal entity or instrumentality that owns or operates facilities for the generation of electricity for use primarily by the public, and that is not an electric utility.

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Kilowatthour (kWh): A measure of electricity defined as a unit of work or energy, measured as 1 kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power expended for 1 hour. One kWh is equivalent to 3,412 Btu.

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Mcf: One thousand cubic feet.

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Natural gas: A gaseous mixture of hydrocarbon compounds, the primary one being methane. Note: The Energy Information Administration measures wet natural gas and its two sources of production, associated/dissolved natural gas and nonassociated natural gas, and dry natural gas, which is produced from wet natural gas.

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Off peak: Period of relatively low system demand. These periods often occur in daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns; these off-peak periods differ for each individual electric utility.

On peak: Periods of relatively high system demand. These periods often occur in daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns; these on-peak periods differ for each individual electric utility.

Ozone: A molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen. Occurs naturally in the stratosphere and provides a protective layer shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the troposphere, it is a chemical oxidant, a greenhouse gas, and a major component of photochemical smog.

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Power: The rate of producing, transferring, or using energy, most commonly associated with electricity. Power is measured in watts and often expressed in kilowatts (kW) or megawatts (mW). Also known as "real" or "active" power.

Power production plant: All the land and land rights, structures and improvements, boiler or reactor vessel equipment, engines and engine-driven generator, turbogenerator units, accessory electric equipment, and miscellaneous power plant equipment are grouped together for each individual facility.

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Rates: The authorized charges per unit or level of consumption for a specified time period for any of the classes of utility services provided to a customer.

Regulation: The governmental function of controlling or directing economic entities through the process of rulemaking and adjudication.

Residential consumers: Consumers using gas for heating, air conditioning, cooking, water heating, and other residential uses in single and multi-family dwellings and apartments and mobile homes.

Restructuring: The process of replacing a monopoly system of electric utilities with competing sellers, allowing individual retail customers to choose their electricity supplier but still receive delivery over the power lines of the local utility. It includes the reconfiguration of the vertically-integrated electric utility.

Retailer: A firm (other than a refiner, reseller, or reseller/retailer) that carries on the trade or business of purchasing refined petroleum products and reselling them to ultimate consumers without substantially changing their form.

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Solar energy: The radiant energy of the sun, which can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or electricity.

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Term agreement: Any written or unwritten agreement between two parties in which one party agrees to supply a commodity on a continuing basis to a second party for a price or for other considerations.

Therm: One hundred thousand (100,000) Btu.

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Wholesale power market: The purchase and sale of electricity from generators to resellers (who sell to retail customers), along with the ancillary services needed to maintain reliability and power quality at the transmission level.

Wind energy: Kinetic energy present in wind motion that can be converted to mechanical energy for driving pumps, mills, and electric power generators.

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Top 5 Tips for
Electricity Shoppers

  1. Vote with Your Dollar - competition for your business inspires innovation
  2. Shop Smart - choose products, terms and service that meet your needs
  3. Conserve Energy at Home - lower usage means lower bills
  4. Look for Fixed Rates - they may give you long-term protection
  5. Read the Fine Print - make sure your monthly rate isn't promotional only