Working Cities Pittsfield submits testimony regarding Eversource rate hike proposal

After listening to the impressive amount of testimony opposed to the Eversource rate increase proposal, it is important to remember how these increases will impact everyday people in our community. Below is the testimony submitted by Working Cities Pittsfield to the MA Department of Public Utilities.

Testimony of Alisa Costa, Initiative Director of Working Cities Pittsfield To the Department of Public Utilities Public Hearing on Western Massachusetts Electric Company’s Proposed Rate Increase As Prepared for Delivery D.P.U. 17-05 August 1, 2017

Good evening. Thank you to the members of the DPU for traveling to Pittsfield again to hear the concerns of residents, businesses, and our representatives regarding the proposed rate hike by Eversource. Thank you especially to the residents who came out tonight, who perhaps had to take off from work, who are not being paid to be here tonight like you and me.

The Working Cities Pittsfield initiative is charged with identifying barriers to opportunity and breaking them down so that everyone in our community can experience a safe, thriving, and just city. To me, a public official’s job, and my job, for that matter, is not about solving all the problems. It is about creating the conditions that encourage and support the community to solve its problems. When we are already working so hard to help the city grow and thrive, this rate increase would be a huge blow. The proposal only adds to our problems and offers no solutions.

At Working Cities, we help individuals living on the edge and struggling to get ahead by helping them identify opportunity and plan their future path to success. Let me tell you what their lives are like and how this rate hike may impact their ability to thrive. This rate hike means that a family with kids has some tough choices to make. You see, their mother is already working two jobs to pay the bills. And what seems like an annoyance to you and I, having to pay more in electric costs, could send their lives into chaos. Because that eight or nine dollars more a month they have to pay, $100 a year, means they may have to go to the food pantry at the end of the month because they ran out of food. That mother may have to choose to give up the air conditioner for her asthmatic child because they cannot afford to run it. She may not be able to fill her car with gas to get to work. But you and I don’t have to make those tough decisions, she does.

That family doesn’t get hit with just an increase in their utility bill. They pay again on the increase to their rent or property taxes because the city needs to make up the cost of running the city. They pay again on the goods they buy. And they may pay again if the nonprofit they get services from has to cut hours or staff in order to pay their electricity bill. There are residents who live two blocks from a solar farm and pay $92 in electric usage and over $119 in “delivery charges.” It makes no sense to them; it makes no sense to me.

You see it is my job, and yours, to make sure our city can thrive. How is a struggling family supposed to get ahead when you keep squeezing them? How can they feel hope when they have to work more hours to just stay where they are?

That is why this rate hike is unconscionable. It helps people who do not need any help and offers nothing back to the community. I urge you to reject this rate hike. I urge you to stand by the “Public” in your title and represent us.

Thank you.

If you would like to submit testimony, you may do so before August 31, 2017.

Written comments can be submitted via email to dpu.efiling@state.ma.us and mark.marini@state.ma.us or via normal mail to Mark D. Marini, Secretary, Department of Public Utilities, One South Station, 5th Floor, Boston MA 02110. Reference the file number for this case – DPU 17-05 – in all documents.