SB 600- Handouts to Industry; Who’s Looking Out for Ratepayers?

SB 600 offers discounted electric rates to industrial users and manufacturers whose rates, like everyone’s, have continued to skyrocket in the past few years.

However, someone is going to have to make up the cost of these discounts and, per usual, it’s not going to be the utility shareholders. It’s going to be you and me. And, our seniors who are living on fixed incomes. Perhaps now would be the time for larger industrial users to focus on conservation and/or energy efficiency programs to cut utility costs until a rate solution exists for everyone!

When the bill was explained in Senate EIM Wednesday morning, the committee was told that residential customers had been represented in stakeholder meetings. That was untrue and was later amended by the staff attorney. Let’s remind all of our legislators that residents were NOT in on this bill.

Even after hearing the Consumer Advocate describe the problem faced by residential customers if this bill passes, the bill advanced to Senate Gov Org, where again the staff attorney implied that, save for AARP, all stakeholders were “in agreement” on the bill. The consumer advocate was not available during Gov Org because the bill was added to the agenda shortly before the meeting.

Senator Doug Facemire asked a lot of great questions about how it is that we’ve come to this place where West Virginia energy rates are rising so exponentially. That’s a complex question with no easy answer, but the answer certainly isn’t passing this bill. I spoke to the bill in committee as a member of Charleston city council concerned about my constituents utility bills.

We still have the chance to stop this bill. The bill will be on second reading (they are really rushing it through) on Monday. Please contact your senator and tell him/her you don’t want SB 600 to pass!

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