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Not a bright idea ...

January 13, 2008

To the editor:

Allegheny Energy's David Flitman is asking me to buy my own poison and hang it up in every room.

The upheaval of our postal service is the least of what I see as an abuse of power exhibited by the Allegheny Power Company with this CFL program.

To congratulate me on receiving unsolicited, tainted goods and billing me for them (see Flitman's opening statement accompanying the product), is the height of audacity and the reported flippant brush-off of customer complaints (people "just wanted to vent") by the so-called "Public Service Commission" spokeswoman, reminds me of monopolistic, third-world governments I have encountered. If Maryland has sunk to this level, we are in deep trouble!

But this show of apparent government and corporate arrogance, pales compared with the dangerous product Allegheny Power distributed across the county and the state.

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The CFLs sent out contain mercury. If you think (as he says) that Flitman's CFLs only contain a small amount of mercury, well here is what the EPA (and Allegheny Power) tell you to do if you break one of the bulbs:

"Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag. Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.

"Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag. Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.

"Note: Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.

If that doesn't constitute a HAZMAT drill, I don't know what is.

This program in the long run makes the lead paint problem seem insignificant, because one can destroy lead paint, but, as any high school senior can tell you, one cannot destroy mercury.

Ivor N. Knight
Hagerstown




To the editor:

As I understand it, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) has allowed Allegheny Power to distribute unsolicited light bulbs to us customers and granted it permission to put their expense on our electric bills.

Allegheny should not have the right to distribute a product that we did not order and then charge us for it. As Tim Rowland said in his column on Jan. 8, this is like having Macy's send its customers a pair of goatskin gloves, unsolicited, and putting the charge on your credit card.

The Maryland PSC already went for the deregulation fiasco hook, line and sinker. Just when is it that we get to choose our electric supplier? That really worked well too, didn't it? Another commission faux pas. The PSC is supposed to protect the citizens of Maryland from being gouged by the utilities. Instead, I believe they've climbed in bed with them.

Next, we'll be mailed drinking glasses from the City of Hagerstown that can only be filled with half as much water, and the PSC will allow them to add the cost to our water and sewer bills.

We citizens of Maryland are having our rights taken away by our own state. Perhaps we need to have a "Baltimore Tea (or Light Bulb) Party" and throw the @#&% light bulbs into the harbor! Welcome to Maryland. American freedom stops here!

John Martin
Smithsburg




To the editor:

I really think Tim Rowland needs to do another column on the Allegheny Energy light bulb idea.

Think of it, The potential savings if a client actually used all the light bulbs apparently justifies the cost, according to Allegheny. Using the same justification, if all Maryland residents were to use all the coupon savings that are included in The Herald Mail, you would be doing the community a favor by sending everyone a newspaper and charging them for it. The appliance stores could deliver energy saving stoves, microwaves, refrigerators - you name it.

The card dealers could deliver us all an energy saving automobile and charge us. By the way, how many hours a month do you have to let the light on to save the surcharge amount? Speaking of letting the light on, Motel Six could charge all of us for leaving the light on.

Perhaps I'm missing something; maybe it's justifiable if the cost is under a $1 per month. Hopefully this gets stopped before they mail the solar panels next Christmas. Finally 220,000 customers times $12 equals $2,640,000, which is no small chunk of change to be sucked out of the Maryland economy at the same time the state is trying to rip us off by the increased sales tax and by trying to ignore the various caps by which the real estate assessments can rise. I guess my house is worth more now that I have energy efficient light bulbs.

Dean Martin
Hagerstown

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