By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and the online course Build a Better Pantry on a Budget
Imagine going to the mailbox to face the usual onslaught of bills and finding something different…something that could totally destroy life as you know it. Many Europeans are finding just that – utility bills for 1-2 months of power that work out to around $10,000 because of their energy crisis. Yep, you read that right. I didn’t add an extra zero.
How would you possibly pay that kind of a bill?
Is this how the Big Blackout begins?
Go on a flight of fancy with me.
I’ve posited for years that we won’t need an EMP or solar flare to wipe out our power grid. One day we could very easily run into a situation in which electricity and central heat are only for rich people. Maybe the “fictional” Hunger Games trilogy isn’t that far off from the reality we’re facing.
Think about it. What a way to control the populace! There’d be no need to enforce draconian “green” policies if the price of power was approximately what a minimum wage worker earns in a year.
But it wouldn’t stop there. Folks who have voluntarily gone off the grid in the city have run into issues with overly zealous officials condemning their homes or evicting people because there’s no running water or no electricity. It’s happened in Florida and Alabama, and those are just the stories that made the headlines.
What does it mean to have your house condemned?
A house is condemned when the government deems it to be unfit to live in. No one is allowed to live in or use the property because it is a safety hazard. If there are occupants living in the house at the time it is condemned, they will need to move and cannot return unless necessary renovations are made to the house to address the reasons it was condemned.
If homeowners make all the necessary repairs, the house can usually be removed from condemned status. (source)
So not only would you have no power, you might not even be allowed to live in the home that you’ve worked so hard to purchase or rent over the years. Is there really a better way to snap up residential property than to deem it unlivable and seize it from struggling homeowners?
Now, this is not happening right now, but I hope you can foresee the slippery slope that could be in front of us.
The energy crisis in Europe
The UK has announced a whopping 80% increase in gas and electric bills right before winter. German electricity leaped to $1000 per megawatt hour. The Dutch prime minister has warned Europeans that this could continue for several years.
Businesses in the UK and Ireland are quickly going belly up as owners are getting hit with utility bills in the multiple thousands.
Many of these issues go back to strife with Russia, which provides nearly all of the natural gas for Europe.
I guess we showed Vladimir Putin we didn’t need his stinkin’ gas, right?
(What do you eat when the power goes out? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to find out.)
The energy crisis in the United States
While we aren’t reaching the obscene levels of sticker shock that Europeans are currently facing (yet), Americans are facing our own energy crisis. The Wall Street Journal calls it the worst energy catastrophe in five decades. But there are major differences between the crisis now and the one in the 1970s.
What makes this crisis different than the troubles that roiled the country in the 1970s is how it started and the fixes required to make it end.
This current challenge began with a decade of affordable power that upended the US energy world. The rise of fracking, which extracts oil and gas from shale rock, unlocked cheap domestic supplies while cleaner energy provided by wind and solar farms became far less expensive. Gasoline and oil prices fell while gas-fired power and renewable power pushed aside costlier—and politically less popular—coal and nuclear plants.
It was an era of cheap, plentiful energy. It came undone thanks to a haphazard transition to renewable energy, reduced investment in oil and gas production, political inaction, and unexpected economic forces triggered by the pandemic and lockdowns. Russia’s Feb. 24 attack on Ukraine applied even more pressure to global supplies.
The green agenda may seem warm and friendly, but it could be the end of the United States as we know it. We could be looking at even more rolling blackouts and unaffordable bills. All of this will drive up other prices as businesses struggle to stay afloat.
It’s a vicious cycle, and the victims are ordinary people. The ultrawealthy wouldn’t bat an eyelash at ten thousand dollar electric bills, but the rest of us would be crushed under them. The whole thing certainly seems deliberate. The WSJ continues:
The energy was a political issue for the president from his first week in office when he blocked completion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and froze new oil and gas leases on federal land. He backtracked some as gasoline prices rose, resuming the sale of leases to drill on federal lands, albeit at higher royalty prices and with fewer acres offered, and asking oil-and-gas companies to produce more.
While Mr. Biden has asked for more short-term production, he still opposes long-term fossil fuel investments that will make it difficult for the US to meet carbon-reduction targets. His support for policies designed to reallocate investment from oil and gas to green power amounts to a market signal that fossil fuels are a sunset industry, say executives, making it difficult for them to invest.
Expect a “tsunami of shutoffs” in America.
We’ve been warned to expect a “tsunami of shutoffs” here as it comes to light that 1 in 6 households are critically late on their power bills. That’s more than 20 million homes in the US.
As I wrote recently, once you get behind, catching up is incredibly difficult, with late fees, reconnection fees, and overdraft fees. It’s an entirely new aspect of the already existing energy crisis.
Back in 2019, many American families were already living in third-world conditions. But as prices dramatically rise, that number will only go up, creeping into the middle class. The slow-burning collapse is reaching an undeniable level, and the energy crisis will only exacerbate the inflation crisis, the housing plight, and hunger.
Energy is control just as much as food is.
Those smart meters all the “conspiracy theorists” warned everyone about are being used in Colorado to lock air conditioning thermostats at 78 degrees to manage the “energy emergency”, whether the owners like it or not. California, which is strongly encouraging non-electric cars, is now asking people not to charge those same electric cars due to the heat wave there.
We are reaching a point where we aren’t even supposed to determine where we set our thermostats. And this is probably just the beginning.
What can we do on a personal level during an energy crisis?
I like to write about solutions. But if I had an electric bill that was ten grand, I would not be able to pay it. I don’t know what the solution is for that. The advice I have seems meager in the face of such a disaster, but here it is.
Be frugal with your power. Do everything you can to use less power. Keep your climate settings moderate, and put on a sweater this winter. Use lights only in the room you’re in. Hang stuff to dry. You know the drill. Get more utility management tips here.
Be prepared to live without power. I’ve always had a more low-tech power plan, and I’m really glad of that now. Running a generator would be insanely expensive with the price of fuel unless that generator was entirely solar. Start now figuring out how you’d live without a refrigerator, how to preserve your food in ways that don’t require refrigeration, and how to maintain a livable temperature in your home year-round.
Focus your preps on a dark, cold future. Think about how you’ll light your home, stay warm, and prepare food. Stock up on supplies according to this.
The SHTF isn’t a big one-time event we can all point to and say, “This is when it happened.” It’s happening now, all around us, isolating us and making us feel as though we did something irresponsible or wrong. But that is not the case. This has been done to us.
What we have to do now is respond and be ready for things to get worse – much worse – before they get better.
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How are you preparing for the energy crisis?
What would you do if you discovered a utility bill of $10,000 in your mailbox? How would you manage without electricity or heat in your home? Do you think we’re facing a future with limited power? Let’s discuss this in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.