Media War on PATH Opponents Continues

Earlier in the week, the Charleston Daily Mail printed an incoherent version of a letter to the editor from citizen activist Nancy Williams.  This is the letter Nancy sent the newspaper:

December 13, 2010
Editor,

In Ashley Craig’s November 17 story, “Packed house voices opposition to AEP rate increase,” AEP spokesman, Steve Ferguson, defends the company’s 13.8% rate hike proposal. He said, “We know the economic challenges our customers are facing and we’re doing our part to keep costs down.” There is such irony in this statement, which is completely incongruous with reality.

I am so sick of watching the unnecessary television commercials, which AEP and Allegheny Power air nonstop, about their proposed boondoggle, the PATH power line. How could anyone think squandering more than 6 million dollars of ratepayers’ hard-earned money on such frivolous expenditures is keeping costs down? And now, AEP is asking ratepayers to pay more, at a time when people are having difficulty simply paying their utility bills.

This egregious multimillion dollar PR campaign has been added onto our monthly bills, since March 2008. The power companies are collecting reimbursement for these commercials every time we pay our power bills. The struggling citizens of our state have been and will continue to be footing the bill for this wasteful spending spree. AEP is saying they are keeping costs down, yet they continue to spend millions of dollars on an unnecessary “Public awareness campaign.” And now, they want more money from us?

Nancy Williams
Elkview, WV

This is what got printed in The Daily Mail:

Tuesday January 4, 2011
Pursuing the PATH line won’t save struggling consumers any money

In Ashley Craig’s Nov. 17 story, “Packed house voices opposition to AEP rate increase,” AEP spokesman Steve Ferguson defended the company’s 13.8 percent rate hike proposal.

“We know the economic challenges our customers are facing and we’re doing our part to keep costs down,” he said.

This statement is completely incongruous with reality.

I am so sick of watching the television commercials that AEP and Allegheny Power air about their proposed boondoggle, the PATH power line. How is squandering millions of ratepayers’ hard-earned money on such frivolous expenditures keeping costs down?

And AEP is asking ratepayers to pay more at a time when people are having difficulty simply paying their utility bills.

The power companies are guaranteed a 14.3 percent return on equity by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The struggling citizens of our state will be footing the bill for this.

Nancy Williams

Elkview

Newspaper editors are certainly entitled to edit letters to meet space requirements, but that is not a license to unprofessionally gut the content of the letter.  But maybe length wasn’t the real issue here.  Was it just a coincidence that the only content cut from Nancy’s letter described PATH’s wasteful and inaccurate advertising?  Advertising that regularly runs in The Daily Mail?  Is this the same kind of “editing” that I experienced when local papers cut or failed to run a letter to the editor that told readers where they could find out the facts about the PATH project?

Thank goodness we still have the Internet to pursue the principles of the free expression of ideas (and now facts) in America.  Thanks to StopPATH WV for highlighting this continuing failure of the WV media to cover the PATH fight.  And thank you, Nancy, for speaking truth to power.