Well, that's the official story, anyway...
In theory, the Public Service Commission is supposed to protect us and look out for our best interests. In reality, it seems to tie our hands behind our backs, while the same companies it was set up to protect us from, work us over.
Today I overheard a friend of mine talking about the current flurry of drilling for natural gas. He noted that there is no shortage of the stuff. And because so many people have gotten fed up with the "astronomical" rates for natural gas in this state, the demand is quite low, as quite a few skinflints, like myself, use electric heaters or other devices to avoid using natural gas at all.
The only reason anybody ever used natural gas was that it used to be cheap. Well, it isn't cheap anymore. One of my neighbors routinely had gas bills in the winter that rivaled her monthly rent. Some of my other friends had natural gas bills that were higher than their mortgage payments.
This is absolutely ridiculous. So why does this situation exist?
Because the Public Service Commission not only allows the natural gas companies to raise their rates dramatically year in and year out, it also allows another dirty practice that many of you don't know about.
Were you aware that the natural gas companies pump gas out of the ground in West Virginia, ship it to Kentucky and Ohio, then ship it back to West Virginia and charge EXTRA for it?
Believe it or not, this practice has been going on for years, at YOUR EXPENSE.
There is no reason to ship the stuff out of state then ship it back. It's done just to jack up the rates because the legislation allows them to do that.
Funny how no elected officials seem to speak out against this terrible practice.
It's an election year and winter is coming on ... So why aren't any of our elected officials in Charleston or Washington speaking out about this ripoff?
When you ask them, they will say, "Oh, the Public Service Commission is supposed to look out for the consumer."
Well, as long as I have worked here it seems the PSC is looking out for the consumer the way a bank robber looks out for police....
I remember several years ago attending a "public" meeting where the public was supposed to be allowed to speak out against another injustice committed by another grasping, greedy utility company, and the public was told to sit down and shut up by the PSC head honcho. Even the representative there from one government agency was stunned.
The sad fact of life in modern West Virginia is that these greedy, rapacious utility companies are ripping people off all the time and nobody will do anything about it, and we get no help from the PSC, whose job it was supposed to be to protect us from the utility companies in the first place.
Let me give you another great example...
A couple of months ago, I noticed I did not receive credit on one of my sewage bills from the Logan County Public Service District. When I paid the new bill, I notified them with a letter they had been paid last month and to correct the bill...
Yep, you guessed it. They never did.
Later, I got this nasty letter from them, threatening to have my water turned off if I did not pay the bill, which I had, in fact, paid months ago.
Ironically, I had learned a few months prior that more than a hundred homes up towards Henlawson were not hooked up to the sewer and that people there were not paying their monthly bills and that their water had not been turned off.
I confirmed this by talking to an employee of the PSD at that time.
Sadly, however, in my neighborhood there WERE people who had their water meters pulled at the PSD's request.
Yup, that's right. Many of us pay these outrageous bills every month for a sewer that is not fully functional because the people it was designed to service are not hooked up on it. And yet, some of the people who do not pay; never have had their water turned off.
Meanwhile, the sewage sits in the line untreated because there is not enough force to move it to the treatment plant - which is upstream - and it goes septic, and methane gas builds up and backs up into our homes, causing horrid smells, headaches and a potential explosive problem commented upon publicly more than once by local fire officials.
This is beyond ridiculous. Why are the people of West Virginia being abused this way by these utility companies? Why are our elected officials looking the other way when these crooks rip us off. Why doesn't the West Virginia Public Service Commission do what it was designed to do and protect the people?