PUD's 'basic charge' hurts

Dear Gary,

While paying our power bill recently an elderly lady was ahead of us trying to make heads or tails of her power bill. She was on the average plan and wondered why her bill was so high, $96 I believe. The lady behind the counter explained the averages had been adjusted, reflecting her increase.

This poor lady, 71-years-old, looked distraught when she realized more cash was being sucked from her paltry income of $600 a month. My heart hit my stomach.

As the clerk explained the best she could why her bill increased, she related that no more rate increases were coming this year. This year. The lady looked perplexed and said she would try Community Action. The clerk said she’d better do it now because it starts October 1st and the list is growing daily.

Gee, why would so many people need help? Because when you’re on a fixed income any extra cash out of pocket can be hurtful to your basic needs. It wasn’t that long ago that the “basic charge” for power was $10 every two months. Now it’s $35 every month, $420 per year, per customer, just for being on the grid! Not to mention the many rate hikes in the last five years. Basic extortion is what it is.

How many meters are there in this county? Thousands, times $420.

My wife and I conserve power any way we can. Our last bill was $50.96 in power and the rest for the privilege of being a customer. Just crazy nuts.

The “basic charge” for seniors on fixed incomes needs to be waived. $420 would buy a lot of food and necessities and cancel some anxiety worrying about keeping warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A must for seniors.

This can and should be done. When Community Action runs out of funds – and they do – what is this poor soul to do? Suffer, with no remorse from the powers that be.

Thank you,

Dan Dixon