Yesterday, Republican State Representative, Aaron Bernstine, joined forces with Democratic State Representative, Pam Snyder, to promote change in the unregulated electric utility usage – a practice that occurs not only in Ellwood City, but in over 30 municipalities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“This is an example of Republicans and Democrats coming together to do the right thing,” Bernstine stated.
At the press conference, held outside a residential property on Wampum Avenue in Ellwood City, Bernstine publicly released information regarding his proposed legislation to regulate municipal owned electric companies.
The legislation will discontinue the use of electric departments profits to be utilized in the general fund and will allow municipalities the ability to change electric rates every three months as opposed to every month, stabilizing rates which will help many customers better predict what their bills may be.
The homeowner of the property, Karen Boyle, a mother of two disabled children, was one of many to speak at the event about why she believes the legislation is important.
“Every month I have a fear if my electric is going to be turned off and I have a handicap son that needs electric, I need to blend his food, I need heat, I need air, and it’s never the same thing,” she said.
Among the spectators was Councilman Brad Ovial and Council President Connie MacDonald.
“I think it’s a disgrace that a State Representative would go against the municipality in a unanimous vote to regulate the electric company,” MacDonald stated. “It was a 7-0 vote in favor of regulating the utility, no council members opposed.”
MacDonald presented a press release from Pennsylvania Municipal Electric Association stating that the 35 boroughs that control the electric systems oppose the new proposal:
“Bernstine’s proposed legislation would have adverse and unintended consequences.
- Dramatic real estate tax increase and reductions of critical municipal services including devastating cuts to Borough police and fire services.
- Higher interest rates and higher borough borrowing costs
- Potential job losses for municipal works and hometown businesses,” a portion of the release reads.
In direct response to MacDonald’s statement, Bernstine said what he believes is a disgrace is the 67% tax increase the Council President voted in favor of over the past four years.
“My responsibility as a representative is to stand up for residents, not to be a political mouthpiece,” he said. “Despite the political elite showing up and constantly taxing the people in ways they can’t afford, many people came and stood up for what they believe in – and any day that happens is a good day.”
Video of the live feed from the conference below: