The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Utility companies turn off power ... and people die

Oct 24, 2005

A baby burned to death in an apartment fire in Columbia Heights, a neighborhood of Washington, D.C. PEPCO (the power company) had turned off the power a week earlier when the mother had been unable to pay a nearly $500 electric bill.

She went, bills in hand, to the D.C. Energy Office, which can give low-income residents assistance with their electric bills. She was told that the family’s electricity would be turned back on in two days. The fire occurred four days later. Still with no power turned back on, she had apparently put a candle in the baby’s room. He could not sleep in the dark.

Every winter there are fires in this city and every city because people can’t pay their electric and heating bills. People light candles or use their ovens and other desperate and dangerous means after the power companies turn off the juice – with tragic results.

That baby – and many more like him – died because utilities run for-profit do not put the needs of the population first.