False Billings

By: 
Earl A. Hobbs

I recently paid my gas bill and noticed false and deceptive billing practices. My dictionary says natural gas is methane; that octane is derived from methane; that a British thermal unit (BTU) is the amount of heat to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit; and that a therm is 100,000 BTU.

Long Beach says: “BTU is a measure of the octane of natural gas. This measure is applied to 100 cubic feet. to obtain therms.” The bill is not in therms but BTUs. My metered usage was 2,400 cubic feet. but I was billed for 2,500.

The city buys gas for $3.86 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) and sells it to me for $9.84 MCF. How does this compare to SoCal Gas?

[Editor’s Note: This letter was sent to Robert Dowell, director, LB Gas & Oil Dept., with a copy to the Beachcomber. Hobbs is a former LB deputy city auditor, a certified public accountant and attorney. He worked in the auditor’s office for 21 years.]

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Comments

I read with horror your Beachcomber letter to the editor who equates BTUs to octane. He should check with a freshman college student (or Google) and find out that BTUs and octane are distant relatives. They are related only if you burn octane, you'll get BTUs and if you stand too close, you'll get third degree burns.

Better add education to the new president's list of initiatives.

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