Sunday, September 21, 2008
The local utility company is a monopoly
Yesterday, while tens of thousands of customers were still without electricity, Louisville Gas and Electric announced they would seek rate increases to cover the cost of the massive clean-up efforts associated with last week's wind storm. Nice timing, fellas.

I take issue with this. First of all, this is one of the problems that comes up when a public concern such as a utility company is operated like a private business. Yes, I realize they had some added expenses, and I realize a lot of businesses pass added expenses on to the consumer, but there is a difference here, a big difference.

A lot of restaurants in the area, expecting a big week with thousands of tourists in town for the Ryder Cup, were closed for several days and lost a lot of perishable inventory. It is a restaurant owner's right, of course, to increase prices in the future to offset this loss, but consumers are then free to decide whether the restaurant is good enough to warrant higher prices or find someplace cheaper to eat.

Where can we go for cheaper gas and electricity? Nowhere. L,G and E has us by the short and curlies. They'll ask for this rate increase and the Kentucky Public Service Commission will enjoy a few L, G and E-financed steak dinners and rubber stamp the request just like they always do. Locals, if you ever see a group of hillbillies eating fifty dollar porterhouses at Jeff Ruby's restaurant, prepare to pay more for gas and electric.

Also, there are rumblings around town that trees near power lines weren't properly trimmed, a task that's the responsibility of the local utility. They saved money by not paying workers those extra hours, and then want to raise rates when the neglected tree limbs knock down power lines.

And speaking of power lines, Louisville Gas and Electric has resisted changing over to underground power lines, which would solve this problem once and for all. Of course, changing over would be expensive and they don't want to spend the money. In other words, this is the way they CHOOSE to run their business. They take the risk of damage by staying with their ugly-ass overhead power lines, so they should absorb the cost when their risk backfires.

I'm tired of this one-sided socialism in which companies reap all of the rewards when things go well but assume none of the responsibilities when they fail. Louisville Gas and Electric, shut up and pay for this cleanup on your own.


8 Comments:

Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

I hear that! Over here in Springfield, our utility (named CU, which opens itself up for all sorts of jokes) told people last winter that they should cut down on their natural-gas usage to save money and scarce resources. Barely a month or two later, CU jacked up our rates because - get ready - we weren't using enough natural gas! Awesome.

Blogger Jo said...

This is very exciting and nearly unprecedented... I agree with you!

Maybe there is a capitalist in you after all bro! Business competition is good for consumers. Period.

Blogger Devan said...

http://www.snopes.com/politics/palin/rally.asp

Read up - you'll love it! Feel free to use it for a blog - seems worthy!

Blogger Übermilf said...

Indefensible.

Blogger Scarlet Hip said...

Dirty rotten scoundrels.

Blogger Johnny Yen said...

Back in the first couple of seasons, Lily Tomlin was the guest host. She did a turn as Ernestine, her telephone operator. She talked about providing services and how the phone company was totally in charge of them and that you were helpless. She pulled a plug and mentioned that an entire town was now without phone service. The fake commercial closed with a guy saying "We don't care... because we don't have to..."

I remember in college when AT and T was split up. Slowly, they've gotten most of the parts back together. Sad thing is that there is some good-- they are the only cable competition with Comcast in my area.

I agree with your brother that competition is good for consumers. Problem is that this administration has allowed mergers that have drastically decreased competition-- Exxon-Mobil, for instance.

Blogger Übermilf said...

It seems like this could be an issue we can all rally behind.

Isn't there someone we can tar and feather? I learned how by watching the miniseries "John Adams."

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