More than 200 deaths in the winters of 1975, 1976, and 1977, were directly linked to the shut-off of gas and electricity utility service to residents.
At the same time, thousands of other Americans were forced to make the choice of spending limited funds to pay fuel bills or for medication, food, or rent.
These statistics were cited in November, 1978, by the Citizen/Labor Energy Coalition (CLEC), a national group which has started a campaign to have the U.S. Department of Energy and state public utility commissions prevent electric and gas utility companies from stopping service to their customers.
William Hutton, secretary-treasurer of the coalition and executive director of the National Council of Senior citizens, warned that thousands of people are faced with the choice of “heating or eating.”
“They face life-and-death economic choices of whether to pay for ever-increasing utility bills, or whether to cut back on food,” Hutton said.
There are only three states in the United States–Wisconsin, Maryland, and Rhode Island–which have legislation to ban winter utility service shutoffs.
Media’s failure to publicize the cruel choice given to our nation’s poor and elderly qualifies this story for nomination as one of the “best censored” stories of 1978.
Solidarity, December 1, 1978.