Wednesday, February 6, 2013

PUCO Public Comment

As we may have mentioned a few times, Ohio's Public Utilities Commission is considering a proposal to allow Cincinnati to pass on the cost of utility relocation onto rate payers rather than have the City cover those costs itself. The infamous Streetcar Tax. We may have even encouraged you to submit a public comment.

Below is a recent comment submitted by a Mr. Larry Southwick of North Avondale.

Read his comment and then submit your own here. Remember to include "Case No. 12-1682-EL-AIR"

Mr. Soutwick's letter typifies the concerns many in Cincinnati and the surrounding area have about the proposal and the strong objections to this plan to cede taxation authority to a utility company.

Here is his comment in its entirety.

I oppose the streetcar Facilities Relocation Rider being added to our electric bill.

In the first place, I like streetcars. I like to ride on them, I like to read about them, I like to see movies of them.

In the second place, Cincinnati used to like streetcars. They were all over town, and all over most US towns. They helped develop suburbs and helped downtown businesses. So why do I oppose this rider?

Because in the third place, automobile and streetcar traffic do not mix well. Just look at the old movies and photos. And that was the reason the people using their cars on Cincinnati streets, as well as in virtually all other US cities, decided to get rid of them, from the 1930's on. Buses took their places because not only were they new and clean, but they could alter routes as required by weather, construction or other events. When faced with spending more money for streetcars, versus for an improved form of city street transportation, good business minds and good city planners went with the bus. The editorials in the papers at the time were uniform in their support of getting rid of the streetcars.

While the new streetcars won't be noisy and dirty, they will be every bit of a distraction, a hindrance and a danger to automobile traffic. Streetcars will not reduce street congestion, they will do the opposite. Plus, in the current situation they will go nowhere that buses don't already go. And to expand them further will take astronomical amounts of money, which we do not have either.

It is proposed that a portion of those astronomical costs be covered by this Facilities Relocation transportation rider tariff Indeed, relocating utility lines will be a huge cost of the streetcar project, but those costs are not a part of the electric company supplying me with power. The rider requires me to pay for a service that has nothing to do with my electric service, and one further that can do me no logical good and which I cannot use.
The whole trolley concept is in fact a bad idea, advocating as it does the use of sparse resources to replace a service we already have. An idea that is not yet fully funded and in jeopardy of never getting complete funding. When those monies run out, we'll still be paying through tariffs for something that never was put in place - sort of like Norwood having to pay until recently for the old subway construction that was never completed. So this is not the first instance of the city fathers having a bad transportation moment. Further, paying for facilities relocations caused by streetcar construction and paying "uncollectible" bills do not belong together. Social services has no discernable connection to streetcar construction.

Neither does it sit well that it is proposed to use this rider to camouflage additional government expenditures. Utility bills are to pay for utility costs. Is it even constitutional to put such riders on utility bills?

So, please reject the Facilities relocation rider.

Sincerely, Larry M. Southwick North Avondale

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