Friday, October 12, 2012

1082 Gassed

1082 Gassed

Five years ago, this space saluted the gas company for its forthright billing practices.  And they’re still doing that and doing it well.  But something has changed.

The sneaky, snarky gas bags are looking for a megabucks rate increase.  And they have adopted the standard method of all utilities in announcing it.  Said method:  First, never call a rate increase a rate increase.  It’s a rate “change.”  Second, never just come out and say the amount you’re asking for.  Instead, fill a page with fine print that’s so confusing no one will actually read it -- even with a magnifying glass.

Third:  start with the total revenue you’re requesting, in this case $77.3 million a year.  Granny down the street will have a coronary.  “I don’t have $77.3 million.  What am I going to do!?”  Out goes the 5x8 card on which this stuff is squeezed.

Most of the rest of us will realize this is a proposed figure and that the Public Utility Commission will never approve it as is, and that the 77 million is spread over a jillion individual and business customers.  

Fourth: prominently display irrelevant truths as in “Rates for an industrial customer using 5365 therms of gas per month would increase from $3,206.43 to $3,540 per month or 10.43 percent.”

What’s a therm?  How many do we use now?  

Don’t be fooled by that 10 and a half percent.  That’s for bulk users.  The rate for a “commercial” customer is going up almost 14%.  The proposed rate increase for a residential customer is almost 24 percent.  We residents, if we use 73 therms a month will be asked to paid 83 bucks instead of 67.  

Wait a minute!  Aren’t prices for natural gas at a historic low?  Isn’t this area frac city where they have gas to burn?  Couldn’t we sink our own well in the back yard and not pay anything?

The company’s stock has been trading at a fairly steady rate all year.  It’s stopping meter reading in favor of radio signals, so there’s a smaller payroll at least in that department.

What’s with a 23 or 24% rate increase?  Well, winter’s coming.  But don’t worry, if you’re a hardship case, you can call the company’s toll free beg line at which time they’ll probably offer you some kind of bogus “budget plan,”  

You can also complain to the Public Utility Commission, those fine public servants who are paid under $50,000 a year but have villas in Spain and on the French Riviera.  They’ll be glad to listen to you, too.

Gas companies are used to dealing in thin air.  So what do you expect?

Oh... by the way, here’s the post from June of 2007.   It’s funnier than this one.


--The vice presidential debate was more informative than the first presidential debate, but less telling.  Neither Biden nor Ryan was (a) asleep or (b) acting like a 14 year old hormonal teenager, which summarized Obama/Romney.  From which we can conclude that Biden has lovely teeth and Ryan has a nice shade of blue eyes -- which kind of looked like they were about to spin.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

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