Opinion: Power plays from the movers, shakers
A lot of people have been thinking the state or one of the big cities should take over the energy companies, but they ought to think a minute before jumping into that briar patch. There are lots of reasons to let the power people keep being the power people:
Reason 1 — The power people and the gas people pretty well know what they are doing. Year after year, except when bad weather or fire interferes, you can pretty well bank on getting power and gas wherever you live. That doesn’t mean the power and gas companies are perfect, but think about this: Do you really want a politician running your gas and power company?
Reason 2 —It is true that a lot of the folks who manage the power and gas companies are scalawags, but what bigger batch of scalawags are there than the ones who warm the chairs of the Assembly and the State Senate?
Reason 3 — The politicians don’t even do the things they are supposed to do, one of which is to hold the feet of the public utility commissioners to the fire.
Reason 4 — For one thing, they all sleep together. Those appointed utility commissioners are little more than bagmen and bagwomen bringing bribes to the senators and Assembly members, who in turn deliver those bribes to the big politicians, who in turn do all they can to make utility rules that even children can follow, which means public utility commissioners don’t have to be much brighter than 10-watt bulbs to hold their jobs.
Reason 5 — There are many successfully run publicly held power and gas companies, but there’s a reason for their success. They are run by local commissions elected by the people they serve.
Also, the local folks usually voted to buy the power companies through bonds, so they have lots of skin in the game. They are concerned with making enough money to pay off their bonds, but they also want to be sure they operate a well-run utility that provides for the future and doesn’t rely on “deferred maintenance” to make it look like they are making big profits for their stockholders.
Reason 6 — Yes, some publicly held energy companies do well for their owners — but the cities and towns who own them have to be willing to invest in the equipment and infrastructure to make it work.