Settling for half a loaf

By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  December 22, 2009

Have you noticed how many and how frequently people have their utilities turned off in the wintertime? Ever spend a few nights in an apartment or home without heat? I would think that most of you would like to restrain the public utilities from their ability to shut people off as easily as they do.

It gets a bit frustrating when one realizes how many PUC people are former big utility employees, so it’s not likely that you’ll get much relief or support from these alleged “public servants,” many of whom appear to P&J to be mere foxes assigned to the chicken house. This is a job (and an opportunity) for the much-maligned (and rightly so) General Assembly.

House Bill 6079 will be introduced soon (we hope). Here is what it would provide: If your income is less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, you will have to pay no more than 10 percent of your income for utilities and, when you pay on time, your back bill will be forgiven up to three years. Want to know more about the intent of this bill? Call the George Wiley Center at 401.728.5555. Maybe you’ll even get to talk to our friend Henry Shelton, who has long been fighting the good fight around here to provide food, shelter, clothing, and all the basic things that humans need.

Your superior correspondents ran into Henry a few days ago and, as usual, he had a to-do list longer than Santa’s. One of the things we talked about was how National Grid continues to clamor for more and bigger rate increases and how, unique in Vo Dilun, the town of Pascoag has its own municipal power company that has informed the PUC that they don’t need a price increase but are in a surplus situation and would like to give its customers a refund.

The concept of actually running a utility company for the public’s benefit and not for profit and doing it effectively and efficiently must strike terror into the hearts of the international wheeler dealer profiteers who run National Grid. P&J intend to talk with the folks who have the Pascoag franchise and encourage other local cities and towns embrace this model. We hope to report on the Pascoag experience in this space in the next week or two.

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