Sunday, August 3, 2008

Utility Power

We have all heard the sad stories about people
losing their home power because the utilities
cut off their power for non-payment of bill.
Recently, in Mississippi all customers received
a 30% increase in monthly billing. Perhaps,
this is happening in other states as well.
Generally, the intended consumer watchdog
regulatory agencies are filled with utility
industry sympathizers, so there isnt much
regulatory control over the utility companies.
If consumers were not able to pay their bills
at the former rates, how will they keep the
power on?

There is a federal government program that
offers assistance call LIHEAP, or Low Income
Housing Energy Assistance Program. It is
funded at $2.1 billion which helps the elderly,
disabled, and single parent homes with
children younger than 6. Recently, a bill
was introduced in the U.S. Senate to increase
the program to $5.1 billion. It was defeated.
The past year over 96,000 Mississippi households
received this assistance.

As we have written a number of times, salaries and
wages for 96% of all U.S. workers have not kept up
with prices and inflation. For the groups mentioned
above, there is no way for them to keep up without
assistance. There is the LIHEAP which seems to be
administered by a County Agency, but there are
other means of assistance as well. Most utility
companies have assistance programs for the needy,
but, of course, there are cracks and people do
lose their power. The Salvation Army has a program
of assistance called Power To Care where customers
allocate money to a fund for others. Here in Ms
stockholders of the utility will match dolar for
dollar money donated by its customers. If this is
not done in your state this might be looked into.
The American Red Cross provides a similiar program.
Many local foundations are tapped for support.

The Posts concerning the loss of power to people in
Toledo and the terrible results which came from
that hopefully will not be repeated this next winter.
The above are some examples of what is happening in
MS. People die in Toledo from cold; people in MS
die from heat. We are all in the same boat. What
is really a shame is the negative votes of Democratic
and Republican Senators to increase funding for the
LIHEAP federal assistance.

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