Rocky Mountain Power didn’t get to jack up electricity rates as much as it wanted so it’s taking its marbles and going home. The power company announced that, beginning Sept. 15, it will stop authorizing overtime for employees to restore power outages and cut back on customer service. Eventually, Rocky Mountain warned it would have to turn off the lights. All this because state regulators determined the power company should get to hike rates by $33.4 million, instead of the $74.4 million it wanted. (Utah’s official consumer watchdog had recommended a price hike four times smaller than the approved increase.) The scare tactics really weren’t necessary. The company’s friends in the Legislature already are lining up to put the squeeze on regulators and get Rocky Mountain its money.
With profits from state liquor stores expanding, advocates for the poor are proposing using some of the money to ensure Utah’s working poor have a place to live. The Utah Poverty Partnership will present the idea to state lawmakers Sept. 17. For thousands of Utah low-wage earners, paychecks aren’t keeping pace with the price of housing. State housing officials estimate Utah must add thousands of low-income rental properties each year to meet demand. While Utah already has a program that helps renovate and build affordable apartments, the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund is short on cash. Finding a new source of revenue for the fund now would let Utah take advantage of a just-launched federal program that offers states matching money to expand rental housing.
Someone should tell 3rd Congressional District candidate Jason Chaffetz that he already beat soft-on-immigration Congressman Chris Cannon in the Republican primary. Chaffetz’s bid to be a tough guy has reached absurd levels. He proposes rounding up undocumented immigrants and holding them in tent cities surrounded by barbed wire. He says he got the idea from “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., whose notorious prison practices have brought condemnation from Amnesty International. The Chaffetz immigration plan was lambasted by California Rep. Mike Honda, who spent part of his childhood in a World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans. Honda called Chaffetz’s tent city an “odious reminder [of] a disgraceful chapter in U.S. history” that should be “offensive and embarrassing to all Americans.”