Chicago: Prepare For Rising Electric Bills

When looking at Chicago-area properties to purchase in 2013, my girlfriend and I preferred the house we bought be “cheap” to heat and cool as we suspected utility bills would keep getting more expensive.

Luckily, the home we live in “fit the bill” (no pun intended), and just as we predicted, area utility companies keep raising rates.

This morning, I opened up my Sunday paper and spotted the following headline:

“Chicagoans’ electricity costs to rise”

Cythia Dizikes wrote in the Chicago Tribune:

Chicagoans will see a portion of their electricity bills rise in coming years because of new electric grid rules tied to the polar vortex, according to power auction results that were made public Friday.

The auction will increase part of the average ComEd residential customer’s electricity bill in 2018-19 by roughly $82 a year compared with what customers are paying now, and by about $100 a year compared with what they might pay in 2017-18, according to industry experts. The increases per month in the ComEd region are about two to three times greater than what some analysts had been predicting…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last year, ComEd also made local headlines for higher electric bills. I noted on May 7, 2014:

Local utility and energy delivery company Commonwealth Edison is a major provider of electricity to the Chicago and Northern Illinois region. Residents of these areas served by ComEd could see their electric bills jump in the weeks ahead. Steve Daniels reported on the Crain’s Chicago Business website earlier today:

Commonwealth Edison Co.’s residential rates will rise 20 percent beginning in June as a new charge for electricity reflects rising costs to secure supply during peak-demand periods from power plants.

ComEd’s new energy charge of 7.596 cents per kilowatt-hour, filed yesterday with the Illinois Commerce Commission, is 38 percent higher than the 5.52 cents its customers are paying now…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Next up? Higher heating bills again, I’m guessing.

As I told my girlfriend at lunchtime today, it will be interesting to see how long Chicagoland residents put up with the new fee here, the tax hike there, the higher utility costs around the corner- and the rate at which they come.

The aggregate pain from all these rapid hits to pocketbooks on Main Street and down in the city can’t possibly elicit a pleasant response.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Dizikes, Cynthia. “Chicago ComEd customers to be charged more for electricity in coming years.” Chicago Tribune. 22 Aug. 2015. ( 23 Aug. 2015.

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Chicago Averages 1,492 More Property Crimes In Summer Months Than Any Other Month Of The Year

I happened to catch the following from Elana Dure in my Sunday paper the other week. She wrote in the Chicago Tribune on August 2:

Summer vacations may be fun, but they can also be costly if you aren’t careful about leaving your home protected.

In Chicago, June, July, and August have an average of 1,492 more property crimes than any other month of the year, according to a Chicago Tribune crime report.

People are more active during the summer, and houses stand empty more frequently, making them greater targets for burglars…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Considering The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting above-average warmth for the area in September and October, I wonder if there also won’t be an uptick in property crimes for those months as Chicagoans are out enjoying themselves as much as they can after two years in a row with long, miserable winters.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 Crime, Security, Weather No Comments

C.U.M.A. Survival School Offering Civil Unrest/Bug Out/Summer Weather Survival Training In Glenview, Illinois, On July 25

Just like the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills, here’s another local organization I’d like to obtain instruction from down the road. From the Facebook page of Waysun Johnny Tsai and the C.U.M.A. Survival School (first blogged about in April 2014) this Sunday morning:

We are proud to announce DayOne Gear and Vulture Equipment Works as Sponsors for our ONE DAY Urban Survival/Bug Out/Wilderness class on Saturday, July 25th, 2015.

All class participants will receive a goodie bag which includes a DayOne Gear Survival Tin and Live Fire 550 Fire Cord (MSRP $50+ per bag) plus other essential gear that can be used in class.

DayOne Gear is donating a total of 30 survival gift bags, so space is limited to 30 students.

Vulture Equipment Works will be donating one of their TALON knives (MSRP $189) that will used in class and then raffled off afterwards.

It should be known that the NBC News Crew will be there filming the class for a special segment on Survival. However, all students can opt out of being filmed. This will be a Nationally broadcasted segment.

Class will be held at Off The X Training Concepts in Glenview, Illinois and go from 10:00AM-5:00PM.

NEXT C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL Civil Unrest/ Bug Out/ Summer Weather Survival.

This class will cover:
Home Prep
Home Defense
The importance of firearms training (presented by Off The X Training Concepts)
The Bug In
The Bug Out Vehicle
The Bug Out
Basic Wilderness Survival Skills
C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES Street Defense

WHEN: Saturday, July 25th, 2015

TIME: 10:00AM CST-5:00PM

Location: Off The X Training Concepts, 4350 Dipaolo Center, lower level, Glenview, Illinois 60025

COST: $150.00 (New Students /$75.00 C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL Alumni)

For more information about the class, head on over to C.U.M.A.’s Facebook page here. And for more comprehensive information about the school, visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

(Editor’s note: Posting of information about any third-party instruction is not to be construed as being a recommendation from Survival And Prosperity and its editor, unless specifically indicated. I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Chicago Suffers 4 Killed, 22 Wounded In Weekend Shootings

The other weekend in Chicago was a nice one for the most part, and the local news media reported there were 4 killed and 30 wounded from shootings.

This past weekend was somewhat cooler. Still, from the Fox 32 (Chicago) website this morning:

Four people were killed and at least 22 others- including a 13-year-old boy- have been injured in Chicago gun violence since Friday morning, police said…

According to the popular Chicago-focused website HeyJackass!, 102 individuals have been shot and killed year-to-date in the city, with another 542 shot and wounded.

If the remainder of spring and this summer really do turn out to be warmer than usual, these numbers could get a whole lot worse as the year drags on.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


“4 killed, 22 wounded in Chicago weekend shootings.” Fox 32. 27 Apr. 2015. ( 27 Apr. 2015.

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Illinois Adults Invited To Enter Contest For Free Weather Alert Radios

Illinois residents 18 years and older are being offered the chance to win free weather alert radios in a contest launched yesterday by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA). From an April 22 press release posted on the website:

‘Weather Alert Radios Save Lives’ contest promotes awareness; 100 radios to be awarded

SPRINGFIELD – The recent devastating tornadoes in northern Illinois were a heartbreaking reminder of the tornado risk in Illinois. To increase awareness and use of an important severe weather alerting tool, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) today launched an online quiz for a chance to win a weather alert radio.

The ‘Weather Alert Radios Save Lives’ contest is available on the Ready Illinois website at The contest will run from April 22 – May 22. This is the third time IEMA and IESMA have sponsored the statewide contest.

“It’s important for people to have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings, particularly at night when most of us are sleeping,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Weather alert radios will sound a tone when a warning has been issued for your area and give you information about the approaching hazard. Similar to a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector, a weather alert radio can give you precious time to take safety precautions.”

A total of 100 weather alert radios will be awarded to participants who register after reading information about the radios and successfully completing a five-question quiz. Winners will be announced in late May. The radios were purchased by IESMA as part of an effort to increase the use of the devices in communities throughout Illinois.

“IESMA is excited to team up with IEMA for this valuable awareness contest,” said IESMA President Kevin Sargent. “Each region of the state is affected by some type of extreme weather each year. This year is no exception with the tornado outbreak in central and northern Illinois earlier this month. IESMA believes many lives are saved each year by people being able to receive severe weather warnings from NOAA weather alert radios. Please take time to participate in this contest for a chance to win one of 100 weather alert radios to be given away.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) and state and local emergency management officials encourage individuals and businesses to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards with battery backup, a tone-alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology, which allows the radio to be programmed to receive alerts for specified counties. When an alert is issued for that area, the device will sound a warning alarm tone followed by the broadcast message.

Besides weather information, the NWS also broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural, environmental and public safety hazards, such as earthquakes, chemical spills and AMBER alerts.

More information about severe weather preparedness also is available at

I just completed taking the online quiz as part of this year’s “Weather Alert Radios Save Lives” contest. The five-question quiz is easy- but be sure to read and digest that information provided on the “Weather Alert Radio Contest” page first.

I’m a big fan of weather alert radios. Even if you don’t win one through this contest, I highly-recommend going out and getting one of these devices anyway if you don’t already own one.

Good luck! And Survival And Prosperity thanks the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) for holding this contest once again.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Bloody Chicago Weekend Sign Of Things To Come?

Unlike last year, Chicago is having an authentic spring in 2015.

But accompanying the much-welcomed warm weather has been the dreaded shootings and homicides.

The Chicago news media is reporting the tally from this past weekend (starting late Friday afternoon) was four killed and thirty wounded.

There seems to be more talk of shootings/related murders in the news these days. The popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop reported this morning:

Nearly 600 people shot this year (and a 25% increase in homicides as of yesterday)…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If one believes warm weather equals more shootings, then the “Windy City” could be in for a real bloodbath in 2015.

Looking at my copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015, which claims around an 80 percent accuracy rate with its weather forecasts and correctly-predicted the colder than normal winter for the area, the rest of spring looks to be warmer than usual, with summer being described as “hotter than normal.”

Uh-oh. I wonder if City Hall and “Chicago’s Finest” are aware of that longer-range forecast yet?

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


SCC. “Forty Shot?” Second City Cop. 21 Apr. 2015. ( 21 Apr. 2015.

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Chicago Area Threatened By Severe Weather Thursday

There was plenty of talk tonight on the local news about the prospect of severe weather Thursday in the Chicago area and elsewhere in Midwest. Jon Erdman reported tonight on the Weather Channel website:

A multi-day severe weather outbreak, including tornadoes, is underway and will continue through Thursday in parts of the South and Midwest. Some severe weather may continue into Friday along the East Coast and South. This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.

Thursday: More widespread severe thunderstorms possible from the southern Plains to the Mississippi Valley and southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Some supercells with tornadoes possible. There is some uncertainty in how unstable the atmosphere will become in the afternoon after morning thunderstorms rumble through the region. This will dictate exactly how much and where we see the most significant severe storms in the afternoon.

Thursday Threat Cities: St. Louis | Chicago | Little Rock, Arkansas…

“This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.”

Prepare accordingly. A couple of days ago I rounded up a number of items from around the house I might be using during/after a spring severe weather event:

Severe Weather Gear

I made sure this gear was in good working order, and added/replaced batteries as needed. I plan on storing most of these items within a bin in one location in the home going forward.

You can read the rest of Erdman’s piece on here. And if you’re just beginning to prepare for severe weather events, is a good place to start.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 Emergencies, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Higher Food Prices From California Water Restrictions?

After hearing about the new water restrictions in California, I wondered if Americans wouldn’t be seeing higher food prices (particularly on items from that state) at the grocery store as a result. Marco della Cava reported on the USA Today website yesterday:

California farmers and winemakers are not likely to feel the pinch from Wednesday’s new statewide water restrictions. Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory push to cut water use by 25% in the coming year is aimed largely at water-hogging homeowners and businesses.

“Water allocations to farmers have already been set for the year, so these new measures won’t really impact them,” says Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources. “But the new rules will require increased reporting on water diversions and water use.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

della Cava noted:

Roughly 80% of California’s water is used by its vast network of farms. More than half of California’s agricultural crop value comes from fruit and tree nut production (around $5 billion annually) and about a quarter from commercial vegetables ($6 billion annually), representing more than 60% of total U.S. fruit and tree nut farm value and 51% of vegetable farm value, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s an awful lot of agriculture that’s getting punished by the ongoing drought. The food garden I’ve started to put together is starting to sound that much better in light of what’s happening.

Adam Nagourney added on The New York Times website Wendesday:

Owners of large farms, who obtain their water from sources outside the local water agencies, will not fall under the 25 percent guideline. State officials noted that many farms had already seen a cutback in their water allocations because of the drought. In addition, the owners of large farms will be required, under the governor’s executive order, to offer detailed reports to state regulators about water use, ideally as a way to highlight incidents of water diversion or waste.

Because of this system, state officials said, they did not expect the executive order to result — at least in the immediate future — in an increase in farm or food prices

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Heesun Wee chimed in over on the CNBC website on March 30:

Sectors that will be hit significantly include agriculture and food processing, said Troy Walters, a senior economist at IHS. Beyond those two categories, the impact will be minimal in the near term. “We’re not going to see any food inflation into 2015 beyond normal as a result of the water situation,” Walters said.

Looking at some California crops specifically, 2015 regional hay prices may not soften as they are expected to in the rest of the country. There’s a good chance there will be less rice acreage overall. And tree nuts including almonds will feel more of the drought’s impact, said Brandon Kliethermes, a senior economist at HIS…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The consensus seems to be no food price spike due to the new water restrictions.

But considering the enormity of California’s agricultural output, should arid conditions keep dragging on…

It might not be a bad idea to plant more fruits and vegetables than I originally envisioned.

Next week’s Home Grown Food Summit couldn’t have come at a better time.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


della Cava, Marco. “Farmers not as impacted by Brown’s new drought measures.” USA Today. 1 Apr. 2015. ( 2 Apr. 2015.

Nagourney, Adam. “California Imposes First Mandatory Water Restrictions to Deal With Drought.” The New York Times. 1 Apr. 2015. ( 2 Apr. 2015.

Wee, Heesun. “Amid drought, some California farmers in near ‘survival mode.’” 30 Mar. 2015. ( 2 Apr. 2015.

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Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Develop Post-Disaster Communications Plan With ‘Text First, Talk Second’ Approach

Severe Weather Preparedness Month is almost over here in Illinois. But the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is still passing along valuable information to state residents on what to do when a disaster occurs. From a press release on the Illinois Government News Network website yesterday:

‘Text First, Talk Second’ Often Best Way to Contact Loved Ones When Disaster Strikes

IEMA Encourages People to Have Plan for Communicating with Family Members, Friends during Emergencies

SPRINGFIELD – When disaster strikes, your first instinct probably is to call loved ones to make sure they’re OK or let them know you’re safe. It’s likely everyone else affected by the emergency is thinking the same thing. In these instances, telephone lines can quickly become overloaded, preventing not only your call from going through but also blocking critical 911 calls.

During Severe Weather Preparedness Month in March, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging people to develop a Family Communications Plan that includes the “Text First, Talk Second” concept.

“Communicating with family and friends immediately after a disaster is important,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “We’re encouraging people to plan now so they’ll know how to reach their contacts in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster.”

Joseph said short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through to your loved ones than a phone call when phone service is disrupted. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information.

Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion during an emergency. You can also use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to post your status to let family and friends know you’re OK.

While Text-to-911 is on the horizon for emergency communications, it currently is available only in limited areas of the U.S. If you need to contact 911, do so by landline or cell phone unless your community has notified you that this service is activated in your area.

Additional emergency communications tips include:

• Keep all phone calls brief by conveying only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
• If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
• If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place, not in a garage.
• Another resource for letting friends and family know your status after a disaster is the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well Registry at
• Your communications plan should identify an out-of-area contact and household members should carry that information with them at all times. If a disaster occurs when you are separated, it often is easier to call outside your immediate area. Family members can call the contact to provide location and coordinate reunification plans.

For more information about developing a family communications plan, visit the Ready Illinois website at

Great advice regarding that “Text First, Talk Second” strategy.

Even I can text on my vintage “dumb phone” with its Shaun of the Dead ringtone.

To find out more about IEMA, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Many Chicago-Area Residents Unprepared For Spring Snow Event

I didn’t publish any new material yesterday on Survival And Prosperity due to the fact my girlfriend and I were painting the front room most of the weekend and I shoveled half-a-foot of snow around my property and that of my neighbors (who are getting on in years) Monday here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

I did get the chance to watch some local news yesterday morning before heading out to shovel in the early afternoon.

And all I could do was shake my head.

You see, the various TV broadcasts were pointing out that many Chicago-area residents were unprepared for the wintry weather.

Despite the fact that it’s been known to snow around here as late as May.

Sadly, camera crews showed a number of people woefully under-dressed for the occasion. One woman was waiting for her ride- while wearing sandals. A Barrington resident was clearing snow from his property in shorts and sandals. Downtown, plenty of people were wearing jackets and other clothing much more appropriate for a warm spring day.

One of the reporters told viewers that most of the people she talked to who were not donning winter wear admitted they had already placed their winter clothes in storage.


I get it. The Chicagoland area has had some real nice weather lately- especially compared to last year.

And from time-to-time I’m guilty too of not being appropriately-dressed for the weather/seasons (I no longer use loafers without socks during the winter. Then again, I can’t remember the last time I wore loafers.)

I wouldn’t make such a big deal about the whole thing if I wasn’t concerned it’s symptomatic of something bigger affecting many Chicago-area residents.

Namely, falling into a state of unpreparedness by letting ourselves become too easily detached from reality.

Long-time area residents know darn well that winter-like weather can strike the Midwest from October through May. Yet we experience several nice spring-like days, and all of a sudden we’re rushing to put the winter gear away by mid-March.

I was driving out by St. Charles the other week when I spotted a pickup truck laden with holiday decorations and a snowblower that looked destined for storage. “Damn fool jinxed us,” I declared to my girlfriend.

Should there be any surprise that President Obama’s “Hope and Change” campaign message struck a chord with so many people around these parts?

And yet here I am, with plenty of sand still clinging to the sidewalks/driveway and my Swedish military M90 parka, Norwegian military rain pants, and U.S. “Mickey Mouse” boots lying around the basement bathroom, ready to be put into civilian service.

It’s good to live for today, to embrace euphoria. But it’s no less important to remember history, pick out/understand trends, grasp the “big picture.”

Remain connected to reality.

And prepare accordingly for the not-so-nice stuff.

Your frozen butt would thank you.

I could easily suggest don’t put away winter items until Mother’s Day (May 10 this year).

But that wouldn’t have done much good last year, when snow fell on the Chicago metro area on May 16.

Oh well. All we can do is be prepared for more snow if/when it comes. And give thanks for any warm weather that heads our way.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 Preparedness, Weather No Comments
Survival And Prosperity
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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