Saturday, April 5, 2008

Who pays?

There's a proposal to have the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation waive the power reconnection fee for low income households. You could even get the tight-cheeked, reactionary, I've-got-mine-Jack misbegotten progeny of Ayn Rand to agree with that one.

Poor people don't have extra cash, pretty much by definition. That's sixty dollars taken away from food, or the next power bill. Heart illnesses and invalids too. Who could be that cold?

Who's going to pay?

We can quibble about the amount, but it takes a trip to disconnect, a trip to reconnect and the paperwork has to be duly shuffled in the office. How much does PTI charge just to flip a virtual switch in their office?

Let CUC pay for it? CUC doesn't have jack, Jack. They collect money, from you or from governments. Somebody, somewhere is going to subsidize these exemptions.

There's history here. For as long as I can remember, the Legislature has been adding new retirement benefits (with the Board always asking who's going to pay) or government benefits without funding. It's most common every two years at election time. (Public Law 8-31, one of the worst, has never been fully funded.) That's hard to do these days, but old habits die hard and now it's CUC.

I really don't want to single out the bill's author. He means well. I even think it's a good idea—don't want to be one of those nasty people I described, after all.

Except... the habit's got to be broken. If it costs money, the revenue source should be identified, in the bill and in the committee report.

Don't make 'somebody' figure it out. The Legislature is filled with somebodies.


Anonymous said...

the 'revenue' source must be the customer recieving the service. sure, it is especially difficult for the lower economic scale customers to have to pay anything, but, it is 'their' service they need to connect.

you simply cannot provide 'free' reconnection services to a 'select' group of people. so what if they can't pay the bill this month, or they are simply late and they get reconnected. the get a month or two of service, and find they cannot pay the bill, they get disconnected, they gather the money, pay the bill and get reconnected again. it could be an ongoing month after month scenario wherein one cannot pay the CUC bill, (no worries, we can live without power for a few days and get re-connected for free). NOT, each customer must be responsible for their own service.

the problem is with CUC. if they had their act together and did not have to send an inspector, or meter reader truck to the site with 3 or 4 individuals in the vehicle, (doing God knows what), it could be much more cost effective. Then to send a line crew (which should consist of ONE truck, with two linemen), not 3 or 4 trucks, with 2 or 3 men each, AND a safety officer.

in the states, it's a one man deala to reconnect a service, unless a bucket truck is involved, you will usually have 2 men for safety reasons.

each customer needs to pay for their own service. CUC needs to get their act together so they can provide that service at a reasonable 'industry standard' rate. $100, is a heck of a deal, even $150 is a good deal to get reconnected, depending though, on what needs to be 'reconnected' the service drop, or simply a minor adjustment at the meter, which is a one man job, less than 15 minutes.

bottom line is, each customer needs to pay for their own service.

lil_hammerhead said...

The power rates are killing families directly, through home bills, and indirectly through higher prices and a collapsing economy.

There is only one way to nip this in the butt in the short-term.. that is to raise taxes, and use the revenue specifically to subsidize CUC and reduce rates to a reasonable operable level.

I don't think employees will fret too much over their reduced rebates.. that they don't see for 2 years anyways. If you gave them the option between a lower rebate level, or reasonably priced power.. they'd choose the reasonably priced power.

Companies would have to give up a large percentage of their rebates as well. Some of these companies are getting back millions each year.