I work for a small family owned company and I have, unfortunately, intimate knowledge of much of their “business”. Yesterday I saw an electric bill for one of their many, many properties and I noticed something odd. At first it seemed like just another surcharge but the name stood out: The Military Base Adjustment Factor. Military Base? There are no bases for hundreds of miles. There are only a couple National Guard Armories within 50 miles of here. (My father was in the military with several of those years being spent in the national guard) What is this surcharge?
So, to Google I went and what I found upset me.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not now, nor have I ever been a lawyer. I am not qualified, by any standard, to read or interpret the law.
Here we go:
The Public Utilities Regulation Act for the state of Texas (all 458 glorious pages). What you want to read is on page 131 of the .pdf document. It’s chapter 36 Subchapter H “Rates for government entities”, section .354 “Discounted rates for military bases”
Or if you don’t want to go through the whole thing here’s just chapter 36 in some weird text only short form:
What it says is that if you are the only electrical service provider in the area where there happens to be a military base you must give them a discounted rate. The wording is like this “in an area where customer choice is not available” meaning [paraphrase]if the military base HAS to buy electricity from you[/paraphrase]. Then you MUST offer your electrical service at a discounted rate set forth by the Public Utilities Regulatory Act.
At a glance, this seems to make sense. You can’t monopolize a utility and then charge a tax payer funded organization a premium. We can get behind that, right? If you read the whole sub-chapter it applies to schools and exempts small municipally owned power companies that operate on a very slim profit margin. What’s the harm, right?
Well the harm is that there’s a loop hole (there’s always a loop hole)
One company that, I can find, exploits this loop hole every time but only for the military bases. South Western Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) has not failed to file a petition every year since this bills passing to exploit a loop hole that allows them to collect a surcharge from their other customers for the reduced billing they are forced to offer the military bases.
Once again, I am not a lawyer, I may be completely wrong, please correct me if this is so.
Wow. What a boring and uninformed post. What could this even mean if I understood all this legalese, mumbo-jumbo?
Here’s how I see this:
> We pay taxes to the government, who funds the military.
> The military spends money which is our tax $$.
> The military gets state mandated pricing for services like electric power to reduce the cost to us, the tax payers (all good so far)
> And we, the tax payers, get billed by private entities for the tax payer money the military did not spend………
That’s a tax on private citizens by private companies (apparently only one) mandated by the state government which is regulated by state elected officials on behalf of a federal entity and not the tax payer or the utility using citizens.
We are paying for the tax payer money our military is not spending with our public utilities. So, if the military paid the higher rate we wouldn't be surcharged.
That's double taxation!
The libertarian in me is saying very bad words right now.