Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Important Update From Annie B

Delegate Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-Wytheville) has released the following statement regarding AEP's rate hike request:
AEP Rate Increases – September 18, 2008

Once again, Appalachian Power Company is asking for a rate increase. Once again, it is being asked for during the fall and winter months when heating and lighting a home is more costly than in other seasons. After saying this, I do not deny that we have a power company whose rates are lower than many across the nation and they need to make a profit, like any other business. However, I don’t feel like the people in my legislative district can stand a major increase.

If you have read the State Corporation Commission release, you know that it states that APCo’s fuel rate has increased from 1.418 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) to 2.255 c/kWh. What you need to know is that Congress voted to allow the 11% increase in the fuel rate to produce power because of the increased cost of coal. That will be on your September bill.

Last year, Appalachian Power asked for a 23% increase. Thanks to the power of the people, they received the more reasonable increase of 3%. Once again, they have filed for the 23% increase for October. The SCC will hold a public hearing for this increase on October 29.

In addition, Congress has already given Appalachian Power a 2% increase in their Environmental and Reliability Costs (E&R) which will be added in January. Although the SCC has no control over the 11% or the 2% straight pass-through rates, you still need to write them about the 23% increase.

Once again, I am calling on citizens to speak up. I have joined with Delegate Bill Carrico who has designed a website – – for citizens to send an online form letter. You can also send comments on the SCC website at For those wishing to send a standard letter through the mail, I will list the address below. The case number for the base rate increase is PUE-2008-00046. I, too, will communicate our concerns. Also included below is a sample letter from Delegate Carrico’s website which you may use or change to personalize your thoughts.

Thank you for being concerned and caring citizens. It is an honor to represent you.

SCC Mailing Address:
SCC Document Control Center
P.O. Box 2118
Richmond, VA 23218

Sample Letter:

I, the undersigned, respectfully request that the State Corporation Commission act promptly after hearing Appalachian Power Company’s 23.9% base rate increase proposal (PUE-2008-00046) and render a reasonable verdict as soon as possible. While I recognize the need for periodic adjustments, the proposed increase in beyond reasonable, and is unaffordable for many of the families in Southwest Virginia. Therefore, I strongly urge you to significantly reduce any increase approved to a more reasonable and customer friendly rate. Finally, I would ask that you render a verdict as soon as possible to avoid subjecting Southwest Virginians to the unpopular and excessive interim rates.

For those of you who consider the rate increase to be excessive or burdensome, I encourage you to make your concerns known.

You Guys Should Read The Papers

This from the Charleston Gazette editorial department is par for the course:

Disturbingly, several million-dollar television "spots" being aired by the McCain-Palin campaign are so exaggerated that they're outright lies.

For example, one alleges that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama once supported sex education for kindergarten tots. That's grossly untrue. While in the Illinois Senate, Obama voted for a bill to teach high school youths how to avoid pregnancy and sexual diseases. But the bill proposed no sexual facts for lower grades. For kindergarteners, it would have sought to protect them from molesters. Incidentally, Obama wasn't the bill's sponsor, and it failed. (link)

Really? Grossly untrue? Outright lies? I'd suggest the kids at the Gazette read Byron York's "On Sex-Ed Ad, McCain Is Right" in National Review before making fools of themselves. Again. They might learn something.

Or not.

My Plan Will Still Work

If you didn't read it the first time around, you might want to take a look at my proposal for rejuvenating the flagging economy here in Southwest Virginia. It involves something I call Chilhowie Royale. And it doesn't involve hiking trails!

Apparently I'm not alone in viewing the creation of a casino or two in the area as a great boost for the entire region. Let's take a trip over to Greenbrier, WV:
1,100 jobs
Charleston Gazette editorial

The majestic Greenbrier resort, West Virginia's most elegant spa, lost nearly $40 million in a four-year period, and its 1,100 unionized employees fear for their jobs.

So they asked the Greenbrier County Commission to schedule another local election on whether the historic resort should be allowed to install a modest, European-style, basement casino to attract more guests - and spur revenue enough to protect the workers.

"This may be the only salvation for our jobs and the county's largest employer," union leader Peter Bostic said. (link)

Where's Boucher on this? Wouldn't it be great if Southwest Virginia stood to regain all those jobs that have been lost over at the Volvo plant? Where's the leadership?

Build a couple of casinos and watch the money flow. I guarantee it.

What Does That Say About Him?

To our everlasting shame, Southwest Virginians will go to the polls in November and have but one choice on the ballot when it comes to who is going to represent us here in the 9th Congressional District for the next two years. The Republican Party, in its infinite wisdom, decided not to put up a candidate to oppose sitting Representative Rick Boucher, Democrat, Abingdon, in this Republican stronghold.

Still, voters remain undecided as to who they should "pull the lever" for. This according to none other than ... Rick Boucher. I quote:

"There are more undecided voters in Southwest Virginia than any other part of the state in this election."

He's running unopposed and the electorate remains undecided.

Undecided? I can't imagine why.

* Boucher may have been referring only to the presidential race, but that's ... undecided.

Economic Prosperity Comes To SW Virginia ...

... some day.
Regional trail plans move forward
The Coalfield Progress

Big Stone Gap — If you haven’t heard about Spearhead Trails yet, it’s a near certainty that you will in the near future.

Organizers of the planned system of multi-use trails in the region say they are moving forward with ambitious plans that, if they materialize, will make Southwest Virginia a Mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. (link requires paid subscription)
How this series of trails will succeed in making Southwest Virginia a "mecca" while the other 312 that already exist haven't brought us squat goes unexplained.

Someday. Someday.

Out Of The Past

A hurricane. A mystery:
Ike helps uncover mystery vessel on Ala. coast
The Associated Press

Fort Morgan, Ala. -- When the waves from Hurricane Ike receded, they left behind a mystery _ a ragged shipwreck that archeologists say could be a two-masted Civil War schooner that ran aground in 1862 or another ship from some 70 years later. The wreck, about six miles from Fort Morgan, had already been partially uncovered when Hurricane Camille cleared away sand in 1969.

Researchers at the time identified it as the Monticello, a battleship that partially burned when it crashed trying to get past the U.S. Navy and into Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

After examining photos of the wreck post-Ike, Museum of Mobile marine archaeologist Shea McLean agreed it is likely the Monticello, which ran aground in 1862 after sailing from Havana, according to Navy records. (link)
The reporter gets it wrong when he or she refers to the Monticello as a "battleship." There was no such designation during the Civil War. It wasn't even a war ship. As I suspected (with a quick Google search), the Monticello was actually a blockade runner - a merchant ship - that tried to "run the gauntlet" - the Union navy blockade of the southern coastline during the war - and accidentally went aground in 1862.

Whatever this is, it makes for a fascinating story.

It's Above His Paygrade

We all had a pretty good idea what that meant. "I don't have a clue" is a pretty good translation it now seems obvious:
"Obama votes 'present' on new economic rescue plan for now "
By Andrew Malcolm, LA Times blog

Coral Gables, Fla. -- Sen. Barack Obama today met with some of his many economic advisors and made an announcement that he was not going to make an announcement about any new plan to plan plans.

After meeting with his top economic advisers, the Democratic presidential candidate said this was not the time to present specific details for how to fix the immediate problem, a reversal from what he had said a day earlier. Nor did he explain when a good time would be to explain such a rescue from the current financial crisis. (link)
"A reversal from what he had said a day earlier."

This guy scares me.