Monday, November 03, 2008

Basic Human Rights ignored by Robber Barons.

The utilities industries, which should never have been allowed to be for-profit in the first place, put greed above human decency. Access to electricity is, in this day and age, a necessity of life and no one should be denied necessities of life due to inability to pay. Everyone should be guaranteed a reasonable amount of electricity every month - but these people are in it for the money, and only the money. They couldn't care less about the people they're supposed to be serving.

The Wall Street Journal
More Utility Bills Go Unpaid
Consumers' Economic Struggles Spur More Power Shutoffs as Firms Step Up Collections
Novenber 3, 2008 By REBECCA SMITH

Utilities are becoming more aggressive about collecting money from delinquent customers, leading to a surge in service shutdowns just as economic woes are pushing up the number of households falling behind on bills.

...Meanwhile, the increasing number of homes left without power -- which could rise as economic pain deepens -- is beginning to worry some consumer advocates and regulators.

...The increased number of shutoffs has attracted the attention of some regulators. Dian Grueneich, a member of the California Public Utilities Commission who has responsibility for low-income programs, has begun asking utilities to furnish information on shutoff criteria. She wants commission staff to "take a look and make sure it is being applied fairly."

...The number of shutoffs could rise further, as new technologies such as digital meters make it easier for utilities to cut off late-paying customers.

Digital meters allow power companies to do things remotely that previously required sending out work crews. For example, utilities can take meter readings wirelessly and switch a customer's power off or on without having to send a crew to a house. They also can use a "service limiter" feature to cut power flows to a trickle until customers pay up. Utilities are installing millions of these meters across the U.S.

...Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International of Rosemead, Calif., currently disconnects late-paying customers owing as little as $30, but that could drop lower in the future. That usually would be a money-losing proposition, because it requires a crew to be sent out to disconnect service manually. But the company is in the process of installing 5.3 million digital meters, at a cost of $1.63 billion, which will allow remote, wireless shutoffs, making it economical to take action even for tiny amounts owed. In a recent filing with regulators it said it could adopt "rigid enforcement" of payment rules in the future for those owing less than $30. It hypothesized it could cut off an additional 129,000 people a year.

...The ease with which utilities can use digital meters to cut off service has alarmed some consumer advocates. "Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it," said Irwin Popowsky, head of the Office of Consumer Advocate in Pennsylvania. "From my perspective, they're creating a reason to not have smart meters."

The Robber Barons are actually excited about being able to cut off more people's electricity, in case you hadn't noticed. They're thrilled about it. This is "free market" capitalism at work, class - no basic human rights, no protections for the poor with children or the sick or the elderly. This is third world nation status, Robber Baron economics, and it's shameful in the extreme that the government is allowing this to be practiced here. And you should be ashamed, because you're letting them do it.

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