Many days we take for granted the fact that we can flip a switch and turn on a light or heat our house. When the bill shows up in the mail we become aware of the cost to bring those services to us. As with everything else, those costs keep going up.
Unlike many other services available to us, we don't have a choice about who we get our natural gas or electricity from. This arrangement usually works because having a patchwork system of services just isn't feasible. We also have the Public Service Commission (PSC) to review requests and try to balance the needs of the industry against the best interests of the consumers.
Like most people, I grumble when a price increase for any of these utilities is proposed, but in my heart I know that we can't have the quality without paying the price. But I wonder if I am the only one that is feeling a bit bullied by utility companies lately.
When Rocky Mountain Power only got a $32 million dollar increase instead of the much larger one it requested, it responded by saying it would have to curtail services and not respond to power outages if they occurred after hours to avoid paying workers overtime.
In addition to that, Questar gas is going to pass on the costs of its own mistake to all of us after under billing customers along the Wasatch front.
Bill Barrett Corporation has a television ad running that shows a single mom who is scared to death that the cost of her natural gas may go up and she won't be able to afford it. The message at the end alludes that our natural gas prices will go up if they don't get their way on drilling on the Tavaputs plateau.
The PSC reviewed the requested rate increase for Rocky Mountain for eight months before they settled on their amount for the increase. Questar was already awarded an increase in costs to cover deficits that were partly caused by the under billing. And the drilling in the Tavaputs will probably still happen and much of that gas will head toward California.
I am not writing this to get into the debate on whether or not we should drill. I am just outraged that these groups have stooped to terror tactics to make sure they get what they want.
The cost of bringing us services is not cheap. We need to keep finding new sources of energy to continue to supply our ever increasing need for power and gas. But there are decent ways to go about it and then there is the childish "Breath holding" tactics.
I hope there is enough public outcry to the tactics used that the public relations people take a hard look at the image they are projecting.
No matter what, we will pay more for our utilities next year than what we are paying this year. BBC and others will continue to drill in our area. That is the way it is.
But the one thing that can happen is for these companies that are impacting our lives for both good and sometimes bad, treat us with respect and dignity. We will be a bit more supportive of your actions if we aren't being scared to death.