Puget Sound Energy (PSE) raises our rates every year. The company is asking for the Utilities and Transportation Commission’s (UTC) approval again. The problem is UTC turns a blind eye to the following blaring facts: PSE paid (2019) their top 5 CEOs almost $40 million over 3 years in salaries, incentives, compensations and bonuses. It took in $3.4 billion in energy revenue (2019).
PSE belongs to a group of five utility companies called Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU) that service electric and gas customers across Washington. They are monopoly franchises and they exist to make profits for their shareholders. The IOU paid out a total of $395.3 million in dividends in 2019. PSE takes in over $100 million every month from electric customers alone.
The company is allowed to include raising our rates due to “decreasing customer electricity usage” (we use less electricity because we can’t afford the higher prices). The UTC gave PSE an order for a sharing mechanism that requires PSE and its customers to share in any earnings in excess of the authorized rate of return of 7.6 percent. This has never happened, while PSE has become a money making, profit-churning machine.
We shouldn’t have to pay for an overly top-heavy utility company with way too much money floating around at the top.
There are obviously conflicts of interest here. How is it that PSE’s millions and billions of dollars in wealth at the top has never trickled down to the bottom to translate into savings to lower our electric rates?
Originally, UTC was established to protect the needs of the customers. UTC says it has to “ensure rates are fair, just and reasonable for all interests involved.” Shareholders’ interests/needs refers to money made, while customers’ interests/needs refers to being able to pay their PSE bill and still feed their families.
Who has the greatest need? The already wealthy becoming wealthier, or the people trying to keep warm in the winter and struggling to feed their families?
Blaine is a home to many objects of street art, especially on Peace Portal Drive and H Street. However, these pieces of art are currently in a state of neglect.
Let us restore and beautify these street-art objects. Now that we are looking forward to the reopening of the border, time is just right for renovating and beautifying these objects that would charm tourists, shoppers and residents alike.
One of the best street objects among all is perhaps the stone bust of Joan of Arc. It lies almost hidden in the overgrowth of plants on H Street. If a small area is cleared around the bust, it would again attract the attention of passersby.
Also, there is a beautiful stone carving of a tortoise on Peace Portal Drive needing a pedestal to bring it into prominence. There are two wooden sculptures of owls on H Street. They lie hidden at a height of about 15 feet on less visible sides of the building. I wish both owls were painted and brought from the sides of the building to the H Street facade.
Many objects of street art made from welded-iron (for example, a butterfly, storks, flag-holder, seagull, windmill, etc.) need a little sandblasting and then painting them using multiple bright colors.
Restoration of these art-objects is not expensive. It would be a very low-cost project and yet would transform the streets and make Blaine a more charming city, would make residents proud of their prowess at creativity and make our town stunningly beautiful.
For the further involvement of the community in this creative activity, they can invite more objects of street-art from the annual Peace Arch Park Sculpture Exhibition and from the art competitions in schools of Blaine.
The city of Blaine could organize ‘spotting’ competitions for spotting of street-art-objects on occasions of Christmas or the Fourth of July, giving away small prizes to winners.
I hope these suggestions can help boost the street-art scene of Blaine.
The Blaine Harbor Music Festival (BHMF) is pleased to announce that we have reduced the fee to attend our virtual camp during the week of July 12-18 to a flat rate of $100. This amount will cover as many classes as students aged 12-20 can fit into their schedules, a virtual musical buffet to choose from. Adults (ages 21+) can also participate in several of these courses for the same tuition.
The same faculty members who have been the cornerstones for many years of our live camps will teach the classes. We look forward to welcoming back current students as well as BHMF “alums,” and to offering this remarkable experience to musicians young and old around the world. As friends of the BHMF, please spread the word.
The entire program is presented in detail at our new website: blaineharbormusicfestival.org. Please visit it, sign up and also share this incredible opportunity with anyone who loves music.
See you in July!
Bryan Johnson, Blaine Harbor Music
I live in Bellingham but visit Blaine fairly frequently to enjoy dining, mainly at the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company. On several occasions I have noticed one of your citizens out mowing city right of way property. I am not sure you are aware of this but wanted to bring it to your attention.
Apparently he has been doing it for a number of years and on a regular basis. It strikes me as quite uncommon to have a citizen with such community pride to put forth the effort and time improving one’s city. I did find out his name, Mike Hill, owner of the Chevron Station next to Starbucks. Possibly a good community interest story! Thank you for your time.