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!UPDATED! … TULLY, MAZZEO RESPOND TO PLANET QUESTION ON SCHOOL-BUILDING REFERENDUM … plus … STATE REPS FIDDLE WHILE CONSUMERS GET BURNED BY SCANDALOUS HIKE IN UTILITY BILLS

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By DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

THURSDAY, FEB. 12, 2015 — In this update, THE PLANET can tell you that we have heard from all 11 councilors. We shall present their views tomorrow. We can tell you that this council is split on the question of whether or not We The People should have a direct vote on the proposed THS school building project. The final tally came in at 6-5 — or 5-6, depending on what side you take. THE PLANET shall tell you of the 6 and the 5 tomorrow.

You won’t want to miss this Weekend Edition.

We thank each of our Right Honorable Good Friends for responding to this vital community question. The debate has just begun.

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(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11, 2015) — THE PLANET heard from two more councilors in our poll of how our Right Honorable Good Friends feel about supporting a citizen’s direct referendum on the THS school-construction proposal. Lisa Tully and Melissa Mazzeo responded. Here is the updated score:

Kathy Amuso — No.

Barry Clairmont — Yes.

John Krol — No.

Tony Simonelli — Yes.

Kevin Morandi — Yes.

Chris Connell — Yes.

Lisa Tully — Yes.

Melissa Mazzeo — No.

TOTALS: Five in favor, three against.

Of the remaining three councilors, Jonathan Lothrop and Nick Caccamo said they would have their answer before the Thursday deadline. THE PLANET has heard nothing from Church Cotton. If anyone out there runs into Church, wake him up and tell him THE PLANET is calling.

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State Reps Prove Worthless, Again … or … As the Lights Go Out, the Prices Go Up

Thank you, Gail Cariddi.

Thank you, Smitty Pignatelli.

Thank you, Paul Mark.

Thank you, Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

For nothing. The full story can be read in your monthly electric bill.

THE PLANET will not hold you entirely responsible for the outrageous price hike seen in electricity, but neither will we give you absolution. Rates this winter are running at their highest levels ever. Our good friends in the state house, so cozy as they are with Big Utility, will join their corporate brethren in explaining the “reasons” for this latest assault on We The People. Customers? Constituents? How about patsies?

The reps will read off the bullet points given them by Big utility and cite inadequate capacity of natural gas, rising cost of raw materials, closing of coal plants, and the high cost of “environmentalism.” They might even add that, in the end, the dish ran away with the spoon — anything to get them off the hook.

Inadequate infrastructure to meet rising demand is a statewide issue. Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski cannot solve that problem. That’s why we elect representatives and send them to their free parking spaces on Beacon Hill, where spaces in the private sector go for six figures.

The unceasing cost increases are driving many households into the red and the cold. It’s getting hard enough to stay in Pittsfield for poor homeowners and businesses with taxes being what they are. Too bad that in all likelihood, the massive cost increases in electricity are not on the level. And it’s only going to get worse.

Investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner David Johnston laid out the scheme (source: washingtonsblog.com):

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The price of electricity would soar under the latest scheme by Wall Street financial engineers to game the electricity markets.

If regulators side with Wall Street — and indications are that they will — expect the cost of electricity to rise from Maine to California as others duplicate this scheme to manipulate the markets, as Enron did on the West Coast 14 years ago, before the electricity-trading company collapsed under allegations of accounting fraud and corruption.

The test case is playing out in New England. Energy Capital Partners, an investment group that uses tax-avoiding offshore investing techniques and has deep ties to Goldman Sachs, paid $650 million last year to acquire three generating plant complexes, including the second largest electric power plant in New England, Brayton Point in Massachusetts.

Five weeks after the deal closed, Energy partners moved to shutter Brayton Point. Why would anyone spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the second largest electric power plant in New England and then quickly take steps to shut it down?

Energy partners says in regulatory filings that the plant is so old and prone to breakdowns that it is not worth operating, raising the question of why such sophisticated energy-industry investors bought it.

The real answer is simple: Under the rules of the electricity markets, the best way to earn huge profits is by reducing the supply of power. That creates a shortage during peak demand periods, such as hot summer evenings and cold winter days, causing prices to rise. Under the rules of the electricity markets, even a tiny shortfall between the available supply of electricity and the demand from customers results in enormous price spikes.

With Brayton Point closed, New England consumers and businesses will spend as much as $2.6 billion more per year for electricity, critics of the deal suggest in documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

That estimate will turn out to be conservative, I expect, based on what Enron traders did to California, Oregon and Washington electricity customers starting in 2000. In California alone the short-term market manipulations cost each resident more than $1,300, a total burden of about $45 billion.

A Growing Desperation

THE PLANET shares a letter we received (sent to us privately) that deals with The Little Guy’s concern over rising costs:

Now that Eversource has merged with most of the energy companies in New England, how much has your electric bill increased? Didn’t this increase need to be approved by the MA Utilities Commission?  As far as I can see there are no alternate power providers. The little guy gets hit again.

I stopped in the Highland yesterday afternoon and talked to some of the employees and one customer who I knew about the increase. They were all pretty upset that this was allowed to happen. I’m not sure about MA., but in CA. the utilities have to show the state why they are increasing costs before getting approval.

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The tone of the letter reflects numerous conversations we have had with citizens and local businesses, wondering how they are going to be able to handle the increases. The reference to Eversource Energy is to the conglomerate that is buying up every utility in these here part and including those on the dark side of the moon. Eversource has eaten up Northeast Utilities, Western Mass. Electric, Yankee Gas Services Co., Public Service Company of New Hampshire, Connecticut Power and Light Company, NStar, and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver, good for 3.6 million customers.

To such monopolies, you are not a person. You are a number. You are a commodity. You exist merely to cut them an ever-increasing amount of money each month.

Let THE PLANET ask: With this new energy monopoly and reduced competition, what do you think will happen to your energy bill? Think it’s high now? Just wait. And just wait until the mayor of Pittsfield, the school committee, the school department, and the city council get done with the FY2016 budget. Think things are tough now? Just wait a little more.

And do you remember when state reps years ago were singing the praises of electric deregulation and how it would introduce a state of Utopic Panacea?

So thanks, Gail Cariddi.

And thank, Smitty Pignatelli.

And thanks, Paul Mark.

And thanks, Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

Thanks for damned, gold-bricking nothing. While you get your tax-free salaries, your free parking, your generous benefits package, and your huge per diems, know that your Nobody Constituents whom you have forgotten will be ever so grateful to you for that shot in the rear. Next time you see Gail, Smitty, Paul, and Trish, thank them for screwing you again.

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“I’ve got my head in the clouds. / I’ve got my feet on the ground. / I’m going to stand out in a crowd. / Oh, you’ve got to do it with a feeling. / Yeah, you’re going to hit the ceiling”Humble Pie, “Do You Get the Message?” from the Smokin’ album (1972).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, MALCOM BUTLER AND AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

 

 

 

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spagirl
spagirl
6 years ago

This comment is well deserved for Councilman Barry Clairmont…a true watchdog fir the Taxpayers in Pittsfield. Your stand last night on item #10…. deserves a standing ovation. If you didn’t notice, Barry, Mayor do nothing and his clown Degnan were pretty shaken up. Quick exit…..I enjoyed every minute watching those 2 Losers. Thankyou, Barry, for your Core Beliefs…and unwavering dedication to the Citizens of Pittsfield.

B. Clairmont
B. Clairmont
Reply to  spagirl
6 years ago

You are welcome. It took five other councilors to recognize what was really going on here. Cuddos to them as well.

I suspect the administration will bring the lease forward where the taxpayers will still be on the hook for big bucks down the road. I doubt this battle is over.

Everyone should call or write their councilor and at-large councilors to tell them to vote no on this if the lease puts any costs on the backs of the taxpayers.

Barry

Gatos
Gatos
Reply to  B. Clairmont
6 years ago

Melmaz seemed particularly flustercated after the vote to table. It seemed to take a good ten seconds before anything from her mouth was a recognizable word. She can’t handle it when things don’t go her/Bianchi’s way.

MrG1188
MrG1188
6 years ago

FINALLY!! Thank you Dan for writing about the increasingly desperate situation the utilities are putting us in. I have written Ben Downing, Smitty Pignatelli, the completely useless Richie Neal, our US senators and even the Attorney General. i have also started a FaceBook page to try to create awareness and foment revolution against this unconscionable rate hike: 37%+. That page on FaceBook is called Mass Revolt by the way should anyone want to chime in.

The most shocking things learned so far on this are that the Eagle would/did not print my letter to the editor, that Smitty is the only rep who cares at all and that according to both him and Ben Downing, absolutely no one else has complained to them. There IS no backlash…yet.

2 other things which are critical to really understanding this story, which is really all about extorting a pipeline through the Berkshires…and yes, I do mean literal extortion. Rates 5 miles away from me, in NY state, went DOWN substantially. Downing’s office replied to me that there was NOTHING they could do because they hold sway over transport only (HE is actually chairman of the oversight commission!!) while the increase, he was told by the utility, was a result of a “fair and open bidding process” due to substantial increases in raw materials. Meanwhile, MY bill explained the increase was a DIRECT result of lack of pipeline (transport!!) to get raw materials to the plants. Remember, prices 5 miles away went down!

So someone here is lying, and many have to be growing rich. This is a HUGE story and I for one would love to keep the pressure on and raise the temperature on our public servants. It’s shocking that, beyond Smitty, who really has been somewhat activist, the others are just shrugging their shoulders!,

Gatos
Gatos
Reply to  MrG1188
6 years ago

I also believe the rate hikes are blackmail to get us to agree to the big pipeline. Even the proponents say something like 23% will be used in New England (perhaps Massachusetts, I forget). The rest will be sent elsewhere.

MiddleClass Extinction
MiddleClass Extinction
6 years ago

You know in North Korea they only turn on the power and the water for a few hours a day?

The greedy companies here will continue to gouge the people bringing them to their knees by making them pay dearly for the basic necessities of life.

I heat my house with electricity but no more. This year I am putting a wood stove that produce heat irregardless of whether the electicity is on or not. I feel the power companies are forcing my hand.

Unplug everything not in use as many things draw power even when turned off. Compact floresants bulbs are toxic. Instead use the new led bulbs. The original (Edison) type bulbs give approx 10% light and 90% heat. The new led bulbs give you approx 90% and only 10% heat. Generally what you want is light from a bulb. Some resturants use bulbs for heat to keep foods warm.

Turn off the lights in rooms you are not in.

It looks like from here on in its going to be rough ride for people to make ends meet. High taxes and fees. High electricity. ObamaCare. Insurance always rising. Carbon taxes on the way.
The heavy weight of this load, those on a fixed income will not be able to bear.

Bull Durham
Bull Durham
6 years ago

One word can describe the culprit of these high electric prices – deregulation. The legislature deregulated the electric industry years ago, with the premise that dozens of other electric generators would come flooding into the market to lower prices for all of us. It didn’t happen. Instead we had a few new players who help to reduce one small component of your bill, while the rest goes to the big guys.

The same thing happened in the cable industry – we were all told by the FCC and then-Congressman Ed Markey, who led the effort – that once we deregulated cable, ten new cable companies would come in and offer you cheaper service. The only problem? They allowed, as part of the deregulation, to have the cable companies that put up all the infrastructure the ability to charge any new companies to use it, which discouraged any other cable providers from coming into the market. Only satellite and internet based television is now pushing cable out, but it hasn’t helped to lower bills at all.

No tax on food
No tax on food
Reply to  Bull Durham
6 years ago

I agree with what you say.

There is one big difference between electricity and cable.
Electricity has become a neccesity in modern day life. Cable is not. You can live a much better life without television; letting programming program you.

Life without electricity can become quite harsh.
Life without TV can become quite pleasant.

Scott
Scott
Reply to  No tax on food
6 years ago

I agree “no tax on food” kill your tv! Read a book, go outside, do anything but sit in front of the boob tube!

Gene
Gene
6 years ago

I wholeheartedly agree that citizens should have the vote on any school construction.

As for electritiy rates, Bull D hit it right on the head. Deregulation didn’t pan out, as many, including me, precidted back then. I am concerned that the energy costs will be the reason the pipeline goes through.

Finally agenda item #10 good work by councilor Clairmont and colleages who backed him. (sorry for typos done from phone)

Still wondering
Still wondering
6 years ago

I have to disagree with de-regulation not working. I went with Dominion Energy years ago now and I have not seen the price hikes that everyone is talking about.

Basic Needs
Basic Needs
Reply to  Still wondering
6 years ago

Not just any company can generate power and distribute it to customers setting up their own power poles and lines. They would have to use the structure that exists. Therefore, there has to be at least some regulation.

A monopoly is not quite the same as free enterprise where competition keeps prices down.

Tesla had the idea to deliver power wirelessly but it never came to fruition.
Cell phone companies compete because each one can set up their own towers. However, cell phones are not a neccesity, whereas electricity is.

You may not have seen prices increase but give it time and watch your bill skyrocket.

This will happen to your water bill also. Just watch after Bianchi gets the new high school locked in and he turns his attention to new water treatment plants.

Hang onto your wallet.

Pat
Pat
Reply to  Still wondering
6 years ago

Dominion energy doesn’t service Pittsfield as of November 2014. Customers were switched over to NRG which raised the rates to 16 cents and counting as of January 2015. Not sure what you are talking about unless you do not live in Massachusetts.

Billy Zorn
Billy Zorn
6 years ago

This electric rate hike will hit seniors very hard. The average COLA was about $26 per month for those receiving Social Security. Add in property tax increases for those still able to stay in their homes, and any increase in SS plus more, is wiped out. Those who can leave this area will,but many cannot for various reasons.

Bill

Scott
Scott
6 years ago

I don’t think church looks at his email. I met him while involved with the Samuel Harrison project he’s a real down to earth nice guy and I don’t think he’d ignore the press intentionally. Dan, you may want to give him a buzz on the old cell phone. I sent him an email way back. I never followed up but I didn’t get a response.

Pat
Pat
6 years ago

Utilities should not be deregulated. When utilities are treated like private companies, profit is the only thing that matters. It hasn’t worked for cable and now electric for reducing rates. It was all a swindle and consumers are the mark.

Temper Flares
Temper Flares
6 years ago

The vote last night saves the City nothing. The Silly Council should be looking at ways to cut the next fiscal budget. NOt add more to the School Budget, you can start there!

joetaxpayer
joetaxpayer
Reply to  Temper Flares
6 years ago

Also should not piss away 9 million on a new Parking deck. Why not fix the one we have for 1.6 million. I think they want new larger deck for Hotel North. We have to spend money on what we need, not what we want.

Nota
Nota
6 years ago

I think that’s kudos not cuddo’s Councilor.

Edconnect
Edconnect
6 years ago

Wmeco increase their energy supply rate from .08 to .14 per kilowatt hour

Go to https://www.mythinkenergy.com

And find a better rate. I got mine down to .109

Scott
Scott
Reply to  Edconnect
6 years ago

Here’s another article not saying your recommended
Company is no good but people should have all info available before making a switch. One thing about think energy they claim
to have no early termination fee.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/10/18/for-households-switching-power-suppliers-means-lots-risk-small-rewards/tCiAsYU4Hq5TjZsMFR9uVO/story.html

Awl Thekingsmen
Awl Thekingsmen
6 years ago

Build it, but they ain’t coming?

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

I could

never figure out why some other venue if not G Ewould not Geri to the business of conductive electricity?

We need conductive electricity,everyone does!

dusty
dusty
6 years ago

So did Mrs Mazzeo think someone flipped their vote on her? Is that why she was miffed? Did someone disrespect her?

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

Let’s hope we don’t get a stale episode tonight..Dan is on a roll here!

Shelly Liver
Shelly Liver
6 years ago

Yet another masterpiece, well done, Planet!

Craig Swinson
Craig Swinson
6 years ago

Anyone that voted no on a school referendum should be voted OUT of office next chance you get.

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

Hotel North? In a a year or two it will be the haven for some form of subsidized housing, who is kidding whom?

amandaWell
amandaWell
6 years ago

Hotel North is going to have mini bars in the rooms,Yah!

BeaBreef
BeaBreef
6 years ago

Tax credits, holding companies, LLCees ect…..liquor in the rooms.

Bea Breef
Bea Breef
6 years ago

Serve it! And THEY will come!

Manley Howse
Manley Howse
6 years ago

Hotel California!

dusty
dusty
6 years ago

Looks somewhat like the deal Stanley got for his Beacon theater megaplex…it is nice to have friends in the right places….Stanley did not get his own parking deck though