Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Increase in rates not enough

Today NES will be raising our electric rates about 15%--the cost of the TVA rate increase. In January they'll slip their hands a bit further into our pocketbooks by rounding up our bills to the nearest dollar and creating a slush fund of cash that they'll get to use as great PR next year when the headlines will read "NES provides $2 million in aid to poor". Excuse me, but why does this need to be involuntary? According to WPLN this forced charity was an "executive decision".

Here's the NES Power Board membership:
I absolutely hate it when any entity decides that you have to opt-out of something instead of providing informed consent and asking folks to opt-in. They do this because they can't make their case and encourage participation the honest way. Apparently, their long running "Project Help" wasn't getting the job done and so now we have these 'automatic' donations.

Here's the NES Change for Charity webpage, here's the Opt-Out form (which isn't a secure page, btw) and here's the NES contact page.

Hat tip: AC Kleinheider


N.S. Allen said...

Well, they do it because it's a simple, economic fact that significantly more people will choose not to opt-out than would choose to opt-in, regardless of whether or not they felt that they ought to be willing to spare a few cents for the poor.

A plan like this would be completely doomed if they left it open to "opt-in" - how many people are going to really spend their time thinking about whether NES has any charity programs they should be looking at? And, of course, advertising the program "honestly" would cost them a chunk of change.

So, I fail to see the problem with it, at least as far as the means of getting the money goes. Anyone who actively doesn't want to be part of it is perfectly free to, while those who don't care either way will be secretly doing their part instead of sitting around with that opt-in form buried somewhere on their coffee table.

Kay Brooks said...

You're right. They know that many folks won't notice this increase to their bill, those that do might find it too tedious to opt out. The problem is....they shouldn't have the right to just decide they're going to round up people's bills. Should we be thankful they are just rounding it up to the next dollar and not a whole dollar every time?

Why is it anything NES even needs to get involved in anyway...let alone foist on its customers? We have other agencies than can provide utility money for those in need--let them make their case to the public. NES needs to stay focused on their mission---delivering electricity as efficiently and cheaply as possible.

So honesty is too expensive? And the full color 'newsletter' they include in each bill isn't?

N.S. Allen said...

Seriously? They're going to add, at the absolute most, less than $12 to the bills of people who choose not to fill out an extremely quick, six line, internet-based form, and that's somehow a gross violation of their price setting powers?

I mean, I'm not going to try to argue that NES tacking on a few cents to a bunch of electric bills is the best or most efficient way to provide charitable funds to the poor. I'd wager, offhand, that it isn't, and, in the sense that an ideal government would do everything with total knowledge and absolute efficiency, this probably isn't the best move or, possibly, even a good one.

But, at the same time, this isn't a big thing. A bunch of people are going to, without thinking about it, provide a sizeable sum of money to those in need while losing individual spending power roughly equivalent to a few cups of coffee, maximum. Another subset of people will decide that they don't like the idea of losing that money and type a few things into their computer and be freed from the trouble of it, forever. And some charities will get money that they'll hopefully put to good use.

I can see the theoretical objection to the program, and theory is just fine. Theory is wonderful. But, when you get down to the brass tacks of government, is there really, really a good reason for you to be upset over this?