More for LES

February 7, 2006 at 6:39pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Lincoln Electric System rates and fees will increase under a new rate plan finalized yesterday. The plan was achieved after some impressive work by a number of individuals and agencies.

I can’t help but feel dismayed that the plan hits very hard at our community’s low-income residents. I’m no defender of “slackers” who fail to pay their bills on time or who write checks that aren’t backed by sufficient funds, and I’m not against punishing them for their failure to meet their obligations. Yet I also understand that those who are most likely to be hit by some of the new, stiffer fees tend to have the least ability to afford them. I’m in favor of the fees to the extent that they act as a slacker tax; I oppose them to the extent they are a poor tax.

I appreciate why the plan was structured as it was. It was developed in relatively little time and under heavy pressure from Lincoln’s largest and most important electricity users. Unfortunately, Lincoln’s advocates for those with the lowest incomes don’t have nearly as much clout as other groups, so I have to wonder how much consideration was given to their needs and wants. It’s easy to be intimidated by fears of raising a huge business’s rates by thousands of dollars each month; it’s a little harder to understand the effect a few dollars can have on a low-income budget.

In the end, we’re all paying more for electricity beginning March 1. I fear that LES has pretty much run out of public goodwill, and future rate increases are going to come harder and harder. In the short term, at least, the days of everybody loving LES are history.

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