Cape Cod to pay among highest rates in US
By Walter Brooks
The Cape Light Compact which negotiates electricity prices for over 180,000 households on the cape and islands announced yesterday that your electric bill will nearly double starting with the next meter reading this month. The rate increase is part of a contract with ConEdison Solutions which Cape Light Compact signed last week.
The new contract runs until January 2007. The delivery & transmission part of your bill (usually less than $50) will not change.
Your actual kilowatt per hour will rise from 7.132¢ to 12.92¢, an increase of over 80%. If that portion of your monthly bill is currently
Commercial customers will see their rates raised even higher (85%), but they can opt out of the compact.
Compact blames Katrina, Patrick's prescience
The leaders of Cape Cod Light Compact blamed Hurricane Katrina for the rate increase. Others contend that the compact itself is more than partly to blame.
In an Op Ed piece here last February, Upper Cape State Representative Matt Patrick charges that "Many Compact members are former utility executives. I can only surmise that their background and experience may bias their view when innovative management measures are raised."
He added, "their defense of pollution-belching generating facilities too closely follows the company line... Compact members continue to make outdated arguments about costs." Mr. Patrick has proposed legislation to transform the board from an appointed to an elected body.
One environmental activist from Yarmouth suggested that next time he submits a bill to change the compact's structure he should write it to only allow ratepayers who are part of the compact to vote on their Representatives rather than each town's selectmen or even all voters, like the voting in any corporation in which you own stock.
The single biggest problem for Cape Cod is that the Cape Light Compact represents far too few customers to have signficant market leverage, and it is poorly equipped to compete against a large company like NStar, which will offer residential consumers a lower rate over at least the next 6 months.
Powicki: Give power back to the people
Consumer advocate Christopher Powicki charges on these pages nearly a year ago that " (Cape Cod Light Compact) Board members and other officials are attempting to derail the legislation by various means, most notably by suggesting that it represents an attempt to advance the wind project proposed for Nantucket Sound."
He highlighted a number of problems that have occurred under the board's executive leadership, concluding that "Avoiding fiduciary duties, ignoring the adverse effects of power plant emissions, failing to comply with regulatory requirements, publishing misleading information, making expensive errors, keeping constituents in the dark, sticking them with the bill, and denying responsibility are not the kinds of things that impress voters. Transforming the Compact Governing Board from an appointed into an elected body will ensure that its members are accountable and that consumer interests are understood, respected, and protected - for the power of the people can best be wielded by those the public itself empowers."
How to contact the Compact
Cape Codders who wish to give Cape Light Compact their opinions on this latest turn of events may reach Margaret Downey, Compact Administrator, by email at [email protected], or by phone at 508-375-6636.
Compact board members will be selecting the executive leadership for 2006 at the December 14 meeting so today is the time to act if you want to see a change. The names and email addresses of all the Compact's officers and board members is available here.
Read the story in today's CC Times here.