The Baltimore Sun

Power prices add to economic woes

Economist Lester B. Lave is quoted in "Customers howl as utility bills skyrocket" (Feb. 24) lamenting that utility prices have become a political situation: "When the price of lettuce goes up, we don't demand an investigation," he says.

This must be one of the most absurd things I have ever heard. How can one compare a few cents' increase in the price of lettuce to a rise of a few hundred dollars in energy costs?

Baltimore Gas and Electric's excuses for rising prices are just as absurd. It is obvious the company has an agenda to keep boosting rates, regardless of other circumstances such as fuel costs going down.

What makes all of this even more upsetting is the poor economy. How can regular folks make it when prices for everything are constantly going up?

Cheryl A. Herman, Pikesville

Energy assistance can add to waste

The editorial concerning energy allowances for low-income households was right on target but did not go far enough ("Energy allowances," Feb. 22).

If the governor is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, state programs should not reward households that increase their energy use. An agency that merely pays people's energy bills does nothing to reduce energy consumption but instead subsidizes wasteful increases in energy use.

Energy experts claim that 50 percent of the energy we use is wasted as a result of lifestyle factors. But intake workers for energy assistance programs at the state Department of Human Resources merely confirm an applicant's income-based eligibility for aid without offering counseling on energy consumption.

Why shouldn't the department employ energy specialists who understand energy use and could provide appropriate energy counseling?

A.J. O'Brien, Baltimore

The writer is a retired benefits designer for the Maryland Energy Assistance Program.

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