Letter: Southwest Gas

After opening up the Nevada Appeal a few days ago and reading the headlines about Southwest Gas having been granted a 35 percent hike in rates, it took me a few days to calm down enough to write my thoughts in language that would be suitable for printing in a family newspaper!

What does the PUC do? Roll over and play dead every time Sierra Pacific or Southwest Gas comes before them requesting another increase? I certainly don't recall reading anything about Southwest Gas asking for another increase of this size before it was approved. If it was public knowledge, I wonder how much of the public really knew about it. Not a whole lot, I'd imagine.

How are families on already tight budgets going to absorb a 35 percent increase? And what about seniors barely making it on Social Security? We often hear about seniors who have to choose between buying food and purchasing their prescription drugs. Are they now going to have a third choice - whether or not to freeze to death come winter?

The effective date of the increase is interesting, too, July 1. Did the PUC and Southwest Gas think no one would notice the huge increase until winter when the consumers get their first triple-digit gas bill?

I'm really kind of surprised that there has been no noticeable public outcry over this latest assault on the family budget. Or had we all become so used to the PUC granting every request for an increase that we figure we can't do anything about it and quietly accept our fate without a whimper?

I found it particularly ironic that on the day the Appeal printed the article regarding the 35 percent hike, the evening TV news reported that Southern California Gas Co. had just lowered their rates by 48 percent. Never saw or heard any more about that either, so who knows if it was fact or not?

Admittedly, my knowledge of the PUC is very limited, but I'd sure like to know who these people are and who, if anyone, they answer to. Perhaps we need a brand new PUC - one with a little backbone and the ability to see what these huge increases are going to do to the great majority of the people who have to pay the bills.

And if the last few lines of the newspaper article are correct, Southwest Gas will be asking for another small increase later in the year. How small, I wonder. I hope their idea of small and mine are the same!


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