‘Long haul' fight takes next step in October

| 29 Sep 2011 | 09:25

MILFORD - Beating a big, well-entrenched corporation is not going to happen overnight. But the next step may be in sight as an administrative law judge will hear residents’ at an Oct. 4 “input hearing.” Some residents and ratepayers may have been looking for quick relief from skyrocketing Pike County Light and Power electric rates back in February, when the state Public Utilities Commission held a public hearing in Westfall. Pike County Commissioners’ Chair Harry Forbes said, however, that’s not a realistic expectation. “This is not a quck fix. We’re in it for the long haul,” he said. Forbes said the county’s goal, along with dozens of residents and businesses who have filed formal complaints with state, is “to force or have Con Edison willingly sell ” the small subsidiary company. Forbes says he doesn’t care to whom it’s sold, just as long as the new provider can drop rates back to levels closer to those in place before they doubled in January. The process has moved to the administrative court of Judge Ember S. Jandebeur of Scranton. On Sept. 1, the court sent notice to 43 complaining parties of the Oct. 4, input hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., in the ballroom at the Best Western at Hunts Landing. The notice read, “Attention: You may lose the case if you do not come to this hearing and present facts on the issues raised.” With assistance from state Consumer Advocate Irwin “Sonny” Popowsky, the county, the Delaware Valley School District, and community developer Richard Snyder have taken a lead role, hiring attorney Jim Melia to press the case. After a rate-cap expired in 2005, power rates soared 73 to more than 120 percent for some 4,500 customers of Pike County Light and Power. Company representatives argued that their transmission charges have not changed and that increase was the result of prevailing power rates at the time the company held an auction to select a new power provider. But residents were skeptical as the only bidder at that auction was the company’s parent, Con Edison, whose generation costs exceed those of most Pennsylvania power companies.