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Letter: Rate protests aimed at decision-makers, not employees

This trio was among a handful of people who showed up Friday morning outside the Public Utilities Board (PUB) building on Torbay Road to voice their concerns over proposed electricity rate hikes as PUB hearings were taking place inside.
This trio was among a handful of people who showed up one Friday morning this summer outside the Public Utilities Board (PUB) building on Torbay Road to voice their concerns over proposed electricity rate hikes. — Telegram file photo

I think it’s fair to say that most citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador are very worried and frustrated with constant electricity rate increases as well as the uncertainty associated to the potentially significant increases heading our way in the not so distant future. Many have expressed this frustration in a very tangible way through the signing of petitions, calls and emails to their government member, the premier’s office, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) as well as the utilities themselves.

Some have called in to express their anger on radio call-in shows, expressed their concerns through social media or have written letters to the editor. Some have taken the initiative to demonstrate outside the Confederation Building and/or the offices of the PUB.

While this fear, frustration and anger is very real, I think I speak for everyone when I say that it is in no way directed at or a reflection on the hard-working employees of NL Hydro and Newfoundland Power, many of whom work in very dangerous environments in all types of weather.

We all recognize that you are our family members, our neighbours and our friends. We appreciate your hard work and commitment and realize it must be very challenging for you to go to work every day hearing so much negativity.

And while it may sound encouraging to hear our government proclaim that they have a plan in the works that will alleviate the people’s concerns, that will result in no further rate increases (beyond the norm) and no increases in taxation, until such time this detailed plan is presented publicly, this anger and frustration will likely continue. Until this plan is presented it will likely be considered by most to be nothing more than political rhetoric. 

So as this very serious issue continues to unfold publicly, please remember this is about those in positions of power who are not performing to the people’s expectations. This is about what many would consider corporate greed. This is about ensuring our citizens, particularly our seniors, don’t have to choose between food, heat and medication. This is about stemming the flow of young families to the mainland and providing our citizens with answers and with hope.

So whether you’re a linesperson, a power engineer, or work in an administrative support position at our utilities, thank you for what you do to ensure we have a reliable electrical system. This fight is not about you but is actually for you, as your families will be impacted the same as the rest of us.

Paul Lane, Independent MHA
District of Mount Pearl-Southlands

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