Sixty-two per cent of Northern Virginias interviewed in a recent survey said they had never heard of the Senate Corporation Commission, the agency with rules on all intrastate electrical and other utility rate increases.
An even greater number - 74 per cent - could not name any of the commission's powers, and 80 per cent couldn't remember any decision the group had made.
The survey was conducted for the Consumer Congress of Virginia, a citizen group which is sponsoring a town meeting tonight in McLean at which the SCC will, in a sense, go public. June Bradshaw, one of the three commissioners, will appear. The meeting, which starts at 7 p.m., will be held at the McLean Community Center, 1236 Ingleside Ave.
"The three commissiowners of the SCC are probably the most powerful men in the state next to the governor," said Diane Worthington, head of the Consumer Congress. "I was surprised that so few people knew who they were."
The SCC has often been the scourge of groups like the statewide congress who have charged that the agency is unresponsive to consumer needs and rubberstamps rate increases sought by big utilities like Virginia Electric and Power Co. and Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co.
There have been proposals to have the commissioners elected, but they have not made much progress in the General Assembly, which appoints them.
The SCC commissioners and staff maintain they don't have the resources to do all the things their critics want them to do. Last winter the agency was hard-pressed trying to deal with the natural gas emergency that hit Northern Virginia and downstate industrial centers.
The poll for the Consumer Congress was conducted by Gillespie-Fitzpatric Associates of 149 Northern Virginias who were interviewed by telephone between Aug. 1 and Sept. 15.
These were some of the survey's other findings:
54 per cent of those who pay their electric bills directly thought the charges were too high and 30 per cent thought they were reasonable. No one said rates were too low and 16 per cent gave no answers.
48 per cent said their electric company has recieved too many tate increases and 26 per cent had no answer.
78 per cent said their company provided adequate repair and maintenance service, 15 per cent said the service, 15 per cent said the service was inadequate and 7 per cent didn't answer.