Letters: June 3, 2006

An open letter to our local state officials

Our group is writing to request legislative attention, and legislative changes, to the current uncompetitive electricity rate structure in Delaware.

Please let me make it clear from the outset that this letter is not meant to be critical of our legislative representation. We know that Sen. Bunting had previously voted against the bill in 1999, which set up our present situation. And of course, Rep. Hocker was not in the legislature, which froze the electricity rates in 1999. We are hoping that our fine representatives can make changes in the present law to afford us a better and a more competitive electricity rate structure.

Consumers for Alternate Power represents approximately 2,000-plus homeowners in lower Delaware. Since last May, our group has struggled to find lower electricity rates for our members. Our group had sought bids from all companies which are certified by the Delaware Public Service Commission. Only one company had entered the electricity market in Delaware since May. I am sorry to report that our group was not able to find a better rate which would benefit our members.

Our letter hopes to make everyone cognizant of the uncompetitive electricity environment in Delaware. In 1999, the Legislature, in its wisdom, deregulated the electricity industry in Delaware. It believed that deregulation would result in a competitive environment where consumers could go out and select the lowest possible rate. The legislature so far has been wrong. Consumers do not have a competitive environment for purchasing electricity in Delaware. Some may disagree, but that been the experience of our group for the last seven months.

There are a number of problems with the status quo:

(1) DPL’s rate structure is extremely complex and it is almost impossible for the average consumer to compare rates with other power companies. This must change if the average consumer is to get a fair deal. We need truth in the electric industry. We need a fixed rate structure for the entire year which the consumer can compare easily to determine the lower rate offered. If you have a rate structure that only a rocket scientist can understand, then a company should not be certified to do business in Delaware. If DPL wants to do business in the state, they should be required to offer a fixed rate structure for the entire year.

(2) While 12 other power companies were certified in Delaware to offer electricity to consumers, only one company actually came into market to join DPL. For all of our efforts at aggregation, our group did not get a bid from the new company, Washington Gas Energy Services, WGES. Having over 2,000 members got me an interview with WGES and nothing more. WGES never gave us a bid and so where is the competition? The Delaware legislature should provide a real competitive environment by encouraging more companies to come into the market and offer residential bids. The list of 12 companies creates a facade of competition, but it is not real competition. The PSC should not certify companies to do business in Delaware unless they intend to offer both residential and commercial rates.

(3) There are a number of problems for aggregation, as our group found out. The Legislature should examine this situation and provide facilitating legislation to subsidize these groups as aggregators. For example, the Legislature might pay for the cost of a consultant to facilitate an aggregate purchase. Another example is that the legislature might provide grants to sustain out-of-pocket costs to groups like ours.

I hope our legislators listen and take the earliest possible action to facilitate the offering of lower electricity rates in Delaware.

Perry J. Mitchell
Consumers For Alternate Power

ACTS thankful for help; invites public to store

Now that our newly remodeled store is open, Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS) wishes to invite everyone to stop in and see how wonderful it looks. We have received many compliments from our patrons. And there is no better time to thank all the caring individuals who assisted us with this undertaking.

Special thanks go out to several businesses that were so generous with their time and talents: Webster Furniture in Rehoboth (Mike DiGangi); Bethany Painters; Builders Flooring Center (Ed Nazarian); The Cleaning Company (Jeremy Carvell); and Signscape from Claymont, Del.

Equally important are the volunteers who worked several days beyond their usual commitment to move the store contents, paint, do woodworking, cleaning, decorating, etc. Kudos go out to Karen, Marion, Eleanor, Frank, Ellen, Snook, Wendy, Dick, Garnet, Irma and Tom.

In addition, we want to thank each and every one of the volunteers who had a hand in this project. The remodeling would not have been the success it was nor would we have reopened on schedule had it not been for all these wonderful people.

Garnet Fowler

Fox is using politics in political ads

Regarding Patricia Titus’ column on her outrage of radio commentator Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Michael J. Fox, I feel she should have been equally outraged by Fox’s obviously biased political ad which is running in the state of Maryland.

Fox’s ad in support of Ben Cardin is strange. Not only has Cardin voted against federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines, which Fox is indicating could lead to a cure of his awful disease, but his opponent Michael Steel has actually never voted on the issue.

Why is Fox telling Maryland citizens to vote for Cardin? For the very reason Titus knocked Limbaugh, because it’s politics in another ugly form.

Millions of Americans are opposed to using aborted babies for federally funded research. So far their beliefs have kept the federal government out of such research. But private and state funding is proceeding on embryonic stem cell research, and to date the research has proven to be a complete bust. In contrast, the adult stem cell research (which both Cardin and Steele favor) has already produced some remarkable cures. Why isn’t that story being told?

Michael J. Fox’s ad was just another low-blow in the political ad arena. Like Titus I too have seen Parkinson’s disease up close, but I am surprised she fell for such an ugly and divisive tactic as Fox’s phony ad.

John L Rymer
Fenwick Island

Stickels bids farewell after 18 years
Editor’s note: The following open letter was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.
To the people of Sussex County:

There comes a time in all our lives when we must take a new step, when we must move in a new direction and go a different way to test ourselves, to see what we’re made of and to explore new horizons. After 25 years in public service, such a time has come for me.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, I will officially retire as county administrator for Sussex County. It is a position that has been my life for the last 18 years. It has been both a rewarding and oftentimes challenging experience to lead the county government through a period of intense change.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say a few words to the people whom I have served, first as Georgetown’s town manager in 1981, and then as county administrator, beginning in 1988.

It has been an honor and a privilege to work on the public’s behalf. In a quarter-century of public service, I have had the opportunity to witness great change and be part of a team that has taken progressive steps to making life in Sussex better for all of us.

From bringing central sewer service to areas along our treasured coast and overseeing the expansion of our county library facilities to aiding in the creation of an around-the-clock paramedic program and working with the State of Delaware for more police, I, along with the help of our Sussex County Council and our talented staff, have worked with the best of intentions always in mind.

Let me say “thank you” to the public for having faith and confidence in my work and my abilities, and for giving me your support as I worked on your behalf.

As I depart, I believe that Sussex County will continue to be a very desirable place to raise and educate our children, seek employment opportunities and enjoy those Golden Years of retirement.

That will no doubt mean continued change. I would encourage the residents, as they have over the years, to maintain an active voice in their local government. It is, after all, your government. And without you, the people, there is no government, and there is no chance for people like me to have the honor to serve you.

While my time as a public servant comes to a close, my ties to the community are not severed. I will cherish the countless friendships and bonds I have forged with the people of this great county.

Finally, I would like to thank my family, including my wife, Janice, and my sons, Brian and Brad, who put up with the long hours, night meetings and weekend calls. Obviously, without their support, my career in public service would not have been possible.

Robert L. Stickels
County Administrator