Braxton Citizens' News, Opinion

Strings Attached…

Before I get to the main topic of this writing, I want to thank all of those who bought tickets and donated to the very successful Rotary Club Elimination Dinner held last Saturday. We had a near capacity crowd and raised lots of money for our community.

It was my first time seeing the newly remodeled Gym and I was impressed. The Media Wall and the new sound system were beneficial to our event. I didn’t get to see the actual gym floor because it was covered with a nice carpet like matt. I am proud to say that the Rotary Club funded that addition which will protect the beautiful hardwood floor (I have seen pictures) for years to come.

I wrote a few weeks ago that it would be some time before we figured out how the actions of the recently concluded legislative session would affect us. The first incident of that delusion of facts came this week after the Governor signed House Bill 5617 into law.

On the surface that bill sounds good and is much needed. It authorizes the West Virginia Public Service Commission to establish rules for the testing and maintenance of fire hydrants owned by water utilities.

Being a long-time firefighter, I can attest to the fact that while some utilities do better than others, the fire hydrants are often an afterthought, particularly for the for-profit companies. 

The new law came in response to what PSC staff members found was a widespread failure among water utilities throughout the state to inspect, test and maintain fire hydrants.

But wait… here is the kicker… the law allows the utilities to pass the cost of maintaining these apparatuses to the consumer. The PSC staff suggested it may cost as much as $70 million to support the program.

This should be a cost of doing business, not an excuse for the utilities to ask for another rate increase to what is already termed some of the highest water rates in the nation.

I completely agree with the bill, in fact it is long overdue. However, it shouldn’t be another avenue to tack more expense onto the rate payers. How high can it go?

The Public Service Commission should change its name… It definitely  serves the utility companies far more than it does the consumer!