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Utility Hikes

January 01, 1991

I just read in The Times that the PUC gave Southern California Edison a whopping 9% rate increase for its residential customers. From the United Way Winter Assistance Fund solicitations in my utility bills, I would infer that many can no longer afford the product. Yet the PUC rubber-stamps rate increases, one after another.

Although I sympathize with the poor who find themselves priced out of the energy market, unchecked rate hikes are a hardship for nearly everyone. I would like to see agencies such as United Way address the fundamental problem--rate increases compounded on rate increases. Send representatives to PUC hearings. Lobby for reasonable utility rates, belt-tightening and increased accountability. Change the law that guarantees a return on investment far in excess of inflation. Then the poor will not need charity.

In recent years, Southern California Gas bills for home heating have virtually tripled. Telephone bills are an obscenity. The regulatory process has failed when the checks and balances, designed to protect the public interest, mean nothing.

RICHARD DEIGHT

Buena Park

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