I got a call from one of my cousins. She lives even further back in the woods that I do. Even the climate is harsher -colder and snowier winters. My cousin is trying to keep the lights on. In previous years, she’d fall behind on her electric bills during the winter, but catch up during the warm months when demand is lower. Her and her husband are on a fixed income. She’s on Social Security disability and he’s much older than her on a small pension. He’s also quite sickly and his only medical insurance is through the Veteran’s Administration.
This year the electric company isn’t willing to wait for its money. They notified my cousin that she had to pay up or get disconnected. Now that’s the sort of thing one can expect from private companies. The local heating oil companies have taken a hard line in recent years. The electric company is private, but is a public sanctioned monopoly. In exchange for their monopoly, they are supposed to be regulated by a Public Utilities Commission. Apparently, the PUC isn’t the defender of the little people it once was.
Rumor has it that the electric company is upset with the local opposition to a proposed new power line corridor. It would cut right through the heart of some pretty wind and scenic areas. None of the power would actually be used in the North Country, but would be transmitted south to the major population centers. It’s said that the new hard line on late payments is a way of punishing the low income people located near the proposed power lines who have been very vocal in their opposition.
If that’s true, the electric company is making a very bad decision. Don’t piss off the people who wouldn’t’t think twice about shooting the insulators off your pretty new power line. Folks have got to do something interesting when the power goes out and the TV don’t work no more.
If you happen to live in the cities of MA, CT, and NY, don’t be too surprised if the lights go out all of a sudden for you too.
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