A story in Sunday's editions incorrectly identified R.H. Booker. He represented the Black United Front at a public hearing Saturday on a Potomac Electric Power Co. rate increase request.
If the Potomac Electric Power Co. is granted a rate increase it could mean "a little drama" for the Public Service Commission members in the form of protest demonstrations, pickets and maybe a push to get rid of all of them, angry citizens told the commission yesterday.
"You call Pepco a model utility. I call this a model failure," said Roland Rier of the D.C. Federation of Citizens Associations.
About 60 persons applauded two dozen speakers in the day-long hearing at the Daniel Public Library as they lambasted Pepco for wanting a $45 million increase over rates most persons said were too high already.
"Pepco has got six increases irrespective of whether the citizens of the District could afford to pay" said Metro Coalition leader John M. Thornton. He promised a protest march on the City Council if the increase is granted at the end of hearings that have been in progress since Feb. 22. "There's no other way to do it," he said. "We'll have to have a little drama here."
Several speakers expressed frustration at the highly technical nature of utility rate-making procedures and at one point shouted down assistant commission accountant Norman Reiser as he became involved in a convoluted explanation of the fuel adjustment clause. "The jargon this man is putting down is provoking many of us," shouted Moses Beveney, who run a moving company. "He is poisoning my soul."
"We all had these same issues in 1976," said R. H. Booker of the Black United Fund. "Citizens shouldn't have to be technical experts . . . we pay the commissioners to be the experts." He was among several persons who angrily noted the absence at the hearing of any elected city official except council member Douglas Moore.
"The commission is not going to respond to us today because we didn't put them there. They respond to the pressures of those (elected officials) who answer to commercial and utility interests," Booker said. Moore, energetically passing out leaflets in his campaign for council chairman, promised the crowd to push for an elected public service commission. He urged the audience to pressure council members for passage of his bill, submitted last week, to require Pepco to hold public hearings prior to increasing fuel adjustment charges.
"I spent two weeks studying nothing but the fuel adjustment charge," he said, "and it ain't nothing but a rip-off."
John Rostick of the Garfield-Douglass Heights Civic Association was applauded when he said he didn't trust the power company's figures. "They read the meter when they want to read it and add on what they want to," he said.
Mary E. Butler got a chorus of agreements when she said she had seen meter readers "stand in one yard and read the meter in the next yard." Several speakers complained about rude, irregular and inefficient Peopco service. "The more money we give them the more money they're going to waste," said Reir.