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Mail Tribune 100

Sept. 19, 1915


Is Medford paying too high rates for light and power? 

The city council thought so, and filed a complaint setting forth this fact with the state public service commission.

The commission at once ordered its experts to make a physical valuation of the power company's plant and ordered the company to submit complete inventories showing its property, with schedules of its expenditures.

A date was set for the hearing by the commission, but the complaining city had no representative present, and submitted no evidence to substantiate its charges. A telephone message brought the response that no representative of the city would be present.

In court, where the complainant fails to appear, judgement by default is entered for the defendant. In this case of the public service commission, however, judgement is based upon the evidence presented, including that of its own experts. The basis of decisions are rates that will yield a fair return upon the investment. In this case the only evidence presented is by the defense.

The question must arise in the minds of the commissioners, has the city a just grievance against the power company, and if so, why does it make no effort to substantiate its charges? It is a fair deal to the commission to force the expense of an investigation and a public hearing for the benefit of those who do not care enough about their own case to attend or submit data? Moreover, is it a square deal to the citizens for the relief of whom the investigation is asked?

The subject of light and power rates is important to residents of a community in that it directly concerns every household. It has been the fashion to declaim against the rates in existence. Some of the councilmen have been loudest in their clamor — yet the opportunity offered to make good their assertions is passed silently by — which must convince the commission that there is no real grievance or the city would have had the courtesy to have a representative present at the hearing as the council requested to discuss its grievance.

When the commission makes its adjudication, the rates will govern henceforth, for they will be as near equitable as possible to fix — giving both the consumer and the producer a square deal.