Withlacoochee River Electric – Friend Or Foe?

In a Nov. 14 Hernando Today front-page article regarding electric utility rates, David Lambert, manager of public relations for Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative Inc., lays questionable groundwork for justifying a suggested 4 to 7 percent rate increase. He says, and I quote: “We know everyone is feeling the pain,” and adds that Withlacoochee, and its procurer, Seminole Electric Cooperative Inc., are feeling the pain, too.

May I remind Mr. Lambert, several thousand Hernando County schoolteachers are feeling the pain; they’re not getting a 4 to 7 percent (superintendent excluded) pay raise. They’re getting a 2.39 percent pay increase. Several thousand other Hernando County residents will receive no pay raises at all. In fact, they’ve lost their jobs. Mr. Lambert, that’s pain. Lambert laments, the meters just aren’t spinning. Well, Mr. Lambert, when the meters aren’t spinning, Withlacoochee can’t keep on winning; they must make “real world” adjustments.

Next Mr. Lambert launches the “mother spin” when he says “the cost of fuel to produce electricity has decreased slightly.” One of the fuels he refers to as decreasing slightly is natural gas, which has gone from $14 a thousand to around $7 a thousand. That’s a reduction of 50 percent. Rather than passing that price reduction on to its customers, Withlacoochee increased rates by 11 percent, and now wants to increase rates another 4 to 7 percent. This isn’t the first time Withlacoochee has trotted out this horse. It’s happened at least eight times previously, resulting in the fuel cost adjustment portion of monthly utility bills now exceeding base fuel costs by more than 100 percent.

Finally Mr. Spin says we should all feel lucky, as he compares Withlacoochee’s rates with their price gouging cousins, Tampa Electric and Progress Energy. Mr. Lambert, here’s a little “no spin/no bull” for you. We the people, your customers have our bellies full of bovine scatology (BS), all the way from bailouts, to tax breaks, to billion dollar CEO bonuses and unjustifiable utility rate increases. Withlacoochee Electric is sucking over $1 million a month from Hernando County residents using unjustifiably high utility rates.

Bottom line, stop raping us, and then trying to convince us it’s consensual love. If you’re interested in inviting Mr. Lambert to a local meeting, you may contact the author of this letter to the editor at jg@americaretoday.com.

Jim Gries

Weeki Wachee

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