Monday, July 2, 2012

Quote of the Day: Why's It Taking So Long?

"Major electric utilities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last two decades on campaign contributions and lobbying as part of a hugely successful push to free their industry from federal and state regulations and ostensibly embrace competition. Rather than a reduction in prices, the result has been that utilities' community obligations have been superseded by the need to drive up short-term profits, while enriching top executives and big shareholders has been prioritized over reinvesting profits in improved facilities."

--Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post columnist on why the power companies are not dealing well with this latest crisis.


  1. AEP, the company my husband has worked for for 23 years (An American owned and operated company, with American workers, paying taxes and wages and investing in local communities) has made many changes over the years, not all my husband or I agree with and yes they are a big co with big profits and lobbying like the rest of the fat cats but the government has designed biz this way, they expect payouts...and all the problems which go along with that...I wouldn't argue about that but I want to say I haven't seen my husband hardly at all in four days.

    He's been working 14 hour shifts and when he is in public people treat him horribly and all these other men you see out there climbing poles in 100 degree heat to turn on the power as fast as they can don't deserve the bad treatment and bad attitude they get. Americans have gotten a bit spoiled. Yes, being without power stinks. We are lucky we live in a time and a Country which has this...other places around the world "share" electricity only able to have it on a few hours in each district each day...As to THIS storm... In the 23 years my husband has worked for AEP he said he has NEVER seen anything like this, over 700,000 out of power in our region alone and there were so many states affected we can't get any contractors in to's just the local guys, our local guys out there working right now, we are on our own and they are doing the absolute best they can. My husband will be working through the fourth of July holiday and he'll be missing his son's all star baseball tournament to be getting your power back on for you. It miffs me a little bit to see people grumbling, though I understand why, I'm just saying see the other said and consider the "human" factor here.

    1. To put it in perspective the largest outages in history before this have been 250,000 people during tornados or hurricanes. The longest outage time was one week. Hospitals have priority, then they go to where the largest amount of outages are so they can get the most people back on. If you live in an area that is sparse it will take longer. There are around 1.7 million AEP customers and over half of them were affected with this storm, they also cover parts of KY and W. Virginia. It is taking so long not because someone dropped the ball but because we have never had this type of damage from this type of storm cover this large of an area before.

  2. I dare AEP to ask for another rate increase before it shores up its house-of-cards infrastructure.

  3. No one likes AEP and no one like to have to pay more money for anything, especially right now.

    But since my husband has been working for the co for so long there's some things I know:

    OK a few more facts:

    AEP pays a 37 percent corporate tax rate (how much are oil companies paying?) Compare VA power rates right now with those around the country, and compare American electrical rates with those in Europe and around the world, no wants to hear this but our electric rates are still among the cheapest.

    As to WHY rate increases:

    When federal regs passed laws to clean up coal pollution (which is a good thing) AEP had to eat the cost and spent about a billion for scrubbers and air purification systems for their plants (should they do more, yes, and they do also invest in developing alternative cleaner generating systems *again no funding help from the gov* so conversion to cleaner systems is slow going.) But, here it is: We ALL could try to be more green...use less electricity, be more moderate in our own consumption) another factor for rate increases, which likely no one wants to hear about:

    when the storms come through causing millions of dollars in damage they have to deal immediately with these loses too and they pay time and a half and double time to those working out in the middle of it.

    They do actually pay their workers very well, it is a company which does take care of their men and women (which is becoming rare in today's society) but these men and women who are working hard out there deserve it to be paid well I think.

    There was not a pay rate increase for about 10 years even when the price of gas and coal went up, corporate taxes went up, retirement and health care benefit costs went up...

    Unfortunately, I do know they have culled large sections of the workforce...they do not spend money or time on maintaining equipment as it seems more cost effective to just replace it as they go rather than upkeep and that is a problem, (not so much with the rates in my mind, not so much the money issue) but for the safety of the men working out there on the lines and the people living around substations.

    Another thing that concerns me: In five years my husband might not have a job. I understand no one wants pay rate increases but this money does go in part to support workers and their families.

  4. I agree Dan. Why is no one asking the questions? (Because there's no one there to ask and because if they are there, they are asking the wrong, softball questions.)

    AEP won't tell anyone anything and THAT is the frustration. But, so what. It's summer and the power is out. It will be back as soon as they can get it back.

    Imagine what New Orleans was like for all those months and will all the other damage that accompanied their outage.

    Melanie - the workers are not the problem. Unfortunately, they are working for a big company and they are going to catch the flack. It's tough.