Natural gas prices hit Carson residents hardgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CARSON Sunday, February 4, 2001 5:39 AM
Natural gas prices hit Carson residents hard Robert Baffrey, a service utility operator at the Tracy Power Plant east of Reno, checks a water filtering system Wednesday. - Photo credit/Cathleen Allison by JIM SCRIPPS, Nevada Appeal
The hardship of higher natural-gas prices for the residents of Carson City and the surrounding area have led many to condemn the local utilities and natural gas producers.
Most cite concerns about Carson City's large elderly population, many of whom live on the fixed incomes of Social Security and pension plans.
Two Southwest Gas rate hikes in December and January raised bills by 38.75 percent, compared with the same time last year. A proposal for another 37.8 percent rate increase on March 1 is under review with the state's Public Utilities Commission. If approved, natural gas costs since January would total more than 190 percent of last year's rate.
A jump in prices has meant doing without some of the luxuries for those who cannot afford to keep up.
Doreen Hoffman, who lives in Jacks Valley, is angry at the state government of California for its treatment of deregulation and shortsightedness in preparing for the problems that would follow. California's woes have contributed to higher rates throughout the West.
"The rate increases are part of a series of ripoffs on the people," she said. "Why should we pay the cost because they failed to prepare?
"I think pretty soon you are going to hear about people dying in their houses. They need to take some control of the situation.
"You hear about these companies paying dividends and contributing to political campaigns and it makes you think that it just doesn't make sense."
June Peterson, 69, moved to the Carson City area from the south shore of Lake Tahoe. This year her bills were higher than last, despite the change in climate.
"I think a good portion of residents of Carson City are retired," she said. "A lot of them are living on a fixed income and live in poor areas."
Such is the case for Stephanie Bailey, 59. She said she has had to give up a phone line and cable television to meet the increases. In one month, her bill went from $40 to $105.
"I had a chill when I looked at that bill," she said. "I was just sitting there in shock."
Bailey lives with several family members in Carson City and says, despite a reasonable income, her household's standard of living has suffered.
"I've had to cut back every way I know," she said. "It's serious. I don't buy all the luxuries I used to."
She believes regulations that complicated the construction of new power plants has contributed to the problem. "We have been too short-sighted, for the interest of environmentalism."
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 04, 2001