‘Nullify’ Is Not Good – If You’re Chris Allison

Some words just sound bad, particularly if you’re a board president who insisted right up until the very end that everything was done the right way. Nullify is a bad sounding word. Defective doesn’t have a good ring to it, either.

On Thursday, February 23, 2006 the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), the state agency that regulates utilities, issued an order nullifying LHEUC’s rate increase. The Commission found that LHEUC’s notice was “defective and should be given no effect.” The Utility was ordered to “immediately re-implement its preexisting rates” and to refund all monies collected over the old rates. Refunds must be paid with interest.

On or before May 1, 2006 LHEUC must provide to the SCC a report showing that refunds have been paid. The report must also set forth the interest expense and the cost of implementing the refund, and the company can not seek to recover these expenses in its rates.

For a homeowner, the amount to be refunded is $40.50 per month that the overcharge was collected, plus interest.

For a property owner who paid a tap fee to build a new home, the amount to be refunded is $7,132 for each tap fee paid, plus interest.

We applaud the Commission’s prompt and decisive action. We, along with over 450 Lake Holiday members, submitted complaints to the SCC regarding LHEUC’s proposed changes to its rates and rules.

In a letter to members, Lake Holiday’s president, Chris Allison, tried an ineffective scare tactic. He attacked our efforts to solicit complaints and challenged our motives for asking questions about the “legality” of the proposed changes to the rates and rules. He insisted they were “fair and reasonable.” He suggested that without higher rates, the Utility might not be able to function properly and might not be able to provide water to faucets and toilets.

Hogwash.

Allison ignored the widespread discontent that brewed up over utility rates. The proposed rates were out of whack with the area, and the proposed changes to the line extension rules were attempted without any notice to the members most impacted by them, suggesting exactly what it was – an effort to sneak through an illegitimate change.

Allison focused his energies on using member’s money to send out a personal attack letter. He chose to dismiss legitimate concerns and rely on scare tactics.

In the end, the personal attack and the scare tactic didn’t work. Personal attacks and scare tactics never work if what you’re trying to do is defective.

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