Editorial

 Don't Let the Big Cable Companies Increase Your Electric Bill

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Exec. Editor

Richard Johnstone

Large, out-of-state, for-profit cable companies are pushing legislation in this yearís General Assembly that would likely increase your familyís electric bill. These cable companies are attempting to boost their profit margins at your expense. Please help us stop them!

Even as you read this, lobbyists for Comcast, Cox Communications and other large cable interests are trying to convince your delegate and your senator in the Virginia General Assembly to approve House Bill (HB) 1439. This bill would significantly reduce the amount that the cable companies have to pay electric cooperatives in order to attach cable lines to cooperative poles.

Electric cooperatives incur substantial costs to build and maintain the lines that deliver electricity to your home or business; we believe that the cable companies should pay their fair share of these costs if they want to attach their equipment to our electric poles.

Or, rather, to your electric poles.

Remember, these utility poles are owned by you, because you and all the other cooperative member-consumers wholly own your electric utility. And because cooperatives are member-owned and not-for-profit, all of the funds needed to purchase and deliver the electricity you use every hour of every day must come from you and the other co-op members.

So itís both audacious of the cable companies, and unfair to you, for them to ask the General Assembly to require you and your not-for-profit cooperative to subsidize their large, for-profit business!

Yet if the cable companies get their way and the General Assembly approves HB 1439, then thatís exactly what will happen. And your family and the other 500,000-plus electric cooperative families across Virginia will likely end up paying higher electric bills as a result.

If you believe as we do that itís bad public policy to require a state-regulated, locally owned, not-for-profit electric cooperative to subsidize an unregulated, out-of-state, for-profit cable company, then PLEASE SPEAK UP TO YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY!

To stop this bill from passing, you and thousands of other cooperative members across the Commonwealth need to TELL YOUR DELEGATES AND SENATORS TO VOTE NO on HB 1439. Time is of the essence, so please contact your representatives as soon as possible.

Itís brazen enough that the cable companies are trying to enrich themselves at your expense. But itís especially insulting that theyíre trying to do so during a deep economic downturn, when average families are finding it more difficult than ever to pay for essential services that they absolutely need. These families should not under any circumstances have to subsidize the cable companies.

The current economic downturn is the worst since the 1930s, which is of course the decade during which electric cooperatives were originally formed, as a way for rural citizens to provide themselves with power when no other utility could, or would. Over the last 75 years, you and your neighbors have paid for a well-built, reliable electric system, and big, for-profit cable companies should not be allowed to shortchange you when attaching their cable equipment to your electric infrastructure.

To stop this bill from passing, please CONTACT YOUR DELEGATE AND YOUR STATE SENATOR NOW! Use the enclosed Virginia State Legislative Guide to find their contact information, and then write, phone or e-mail both your delegate and your senator, and tell them to vote NO on HB 1439.

Tell them that electric bills for you and other cooperative members should not go up in order to increase profits for large, out-of-state, for-profit cable companies. Tell them not-for-profit electric cooperatives should not be asked to subsidize for-profit cable companies. Mostly, please tell them as soon as possible!

The voice of the people is truly the best defense against injustices, proposed or practiced. We hope youíll join the large and growing chorus of cooperative members speaking out against this transparent attempt by the large cable companies to enrich themselves at the expense of you and your neighbors.

 

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