Letters to the Editor

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ENERGY: PSE overpriced, unprepared for outages

Letter by Tom Boyce, Olympia on Jan. 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm with 14 Comments »
January 26, 2012 1:46 pm

Over the last year, the price of natural gas has dropped 35 percent to $2.40 per unit on the open market. I didn’t see a 35 percent rate decrease filed by Puget Sound Energy, but it did file for another annual increase.

From its peak, natural gas has dropped dramatically, by 80 percent, over the last five years. How many rate decreases have we experienced during that same period? Should there be some correlation between the price of natural gas and utility rates?

Every year, PSE files for a 6 to 10 percent increase, knowing it will be reduced slightly and then rubber-stamped.

During the latest snowstorm, forecast a week in advance, and the frozen rain, forecast three days in advance, PSE was unprepared. Crews should have been brought in early, Tuesday evening, and positioned in the most threatened areas.

Three days into the storm, PSE was still identifying crews from other states. In the first three days, only a handful of crews, 20 reported by local media, were trying to handle 400,000 outages. That’s 20,000 per crew. The entire system was overwhelmed. Additional crews started to arrive by Saturday and Sunday.

If banks are “too big to fail,” then utility companies like PSE are “too big to succeed.”

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. ManuelMartini says:

    Far be it from me to defend a power company that has no competition.

    That being said – How’s the view from the cheap seats, Tom? 20/20 hindsight is always best. I’m certain you were right out there with the repair crew.

  2. Misunderestimated says:

    Poor planning, poor maintenance, and poor response.
    The crews failed to insure the trees were clear of the power lines, the department failed to adequately plan for this even although they had seen one before.
    Pathetic, now they want more money…

  3. ManuelMartini says:

    The utility is not responsible, nor able, to cut all of the trees.

    Poor information.

  4. With all monopolies come price heightening and service mediaocraty.

  5. SandHills says:

    No different than anything else that is considered a necessity nowadays. Cable, garbage, sewer, water, postage, food – it is all going up, never down.

    If it is something that is needed – especially when there isn’t any alternative ( except going off the grid) – we are kinda stuck with the ever rising cost of those necessities.

    I have even thought about hauling mynonw trash away – or at least the recyclables (pay $12 month for container but only got .38 rebate). Guess I could switch from cable to dish (at least Comcast dropped my rate by $20 because I threatened them I would), or do without TV or internet.

    But with electricity it isn’t like I can compare rates with Tacoma power and ask for their service instead of PSE.

    Short view is we are stuck – but PSE better justify any rate increase by some effort to bury more power lines (especially critical ones with a history of fallen tree outage).

  6. ManuelMartini says:

    I live in a community where people refuse to manage the trees on their property. The result was no power from Wednesday morning to Monday night.

    Talk about personal responsibility.

  7. Wrapper98439 says:

    This from people that were walking to the only gas station because they didn’t listen to the forcast either. And the people that complained that their food spoiled because the freezer didn’t work when there was a foot of snow on the ground.

  8. redneckbuck says:

    People, mostly white folks that think they deserve everything, just crack me up. Hello, who is completely dependent on the government for every last bit of power and water they get. Buy a generator, pay someone to set it up and you won’t have to worry about it.

  9. Many homeowners in my area have still not cut down tree limbs that hang over power lines or neighbor’s roofs. Puget Power has no control over these thoughtless, lazy tree huggers who think it is their right to create situations that rob others of heat and power.
    To blame Puget Power for not trimming trees in advance of the storm shows unbelievable ignorance. They cannot go onto private property and use your money, and mine, to trim trees. They would be SUED!I had to bring legal action to force a neighbor to remove huge tree limbs that were lying on my garage roof. Took four years. Thank God they came off last summer. And, why didn’t folks empty their freezers and put the food in ice chests outside? It was plenty cold to keep it frozen. Another case of laziness?

  10. You better get uses to poor response from PSE. I saw this coming in 2007 when our local controlled power company was sold to a Canadian investment group.

    More of our wonderful New World Order helping the little guy!

  11. My generator did the trick. I was prepared. ;)

  12. took14theteam says:

    The result was no power from Wednesday morning to Monday night.

    And we all enjoyed your absence, Lar……

  13. ManuelMartini says:

    Is LF commenting again?

  14. dirtrider says:

    Lots of valid points but the fact remains that PSE service leaves a great deal to be desired and the they continually ask for and are granted, one rate increase after another. Most of us ratepayers do not get pay increases anywhere near the regular rate increases they are granted. I’m just sayin……….

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