Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 14, 1974, Page 7

Cedar Rapids Gazette

August 14, 1974

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Issue date: Wednesday, August 14, 1974

Pages available: 160

Previous edition: Tuesday, August 13, 1974

Next edition: Thursday, August 15, 1974

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Publication name: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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Years available: 1932 - 2016

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All text in the Cedar Rapids Gazette August 14, 1974, Page 7.

Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - August 14, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 4A Cedar Rapids Gazette: Wed.. Aug. 14. 1974 By Sam Shulsk.v If one may be permitted a bit of hyperbole, it seems fair to observe that Con Edison omission of a dividend on its common stock yanked utilities investments into a new era ;t.s violently as Hiroshima marked the beginning of a new atomic age. When an old-line utility the very model of a "widow's and orphan's stock" has paid some dividends every year since 188a. finds it neces- sary to omit a dividend the damage to investor confidence, it seems to me. exceeds even that caused, for example, by an Sam Shulsky Equity Funding scandal Financial chicanery will al ways be with us but old-line utility dividends were sup posed to be sacrosanct II is not easy to arrive at ar overall answer to the problem or, much less, to answer completely the question poser by many readers: "What But one part of an answer seems to be widely accepted by the utility experts that I have turned to for help: The ''old grey mare" ain't what she used to be and, what's more, is not likely to be ever again. The utility industry has en- tered a new era and faces a new set of problems from the investor's point of view and, most certainly and con- currently from the point of view of the utility customer. Cheap power is on the way out and there is no point to look for its return until fuel and money and tax costs are reduced. And that will be as the kids used to say "after never." W. R. van Liew, vice- president of Fitch Investors, an expert in the utilities field, comments in an article written for the OTC Market Chronicle: "The days of utility service being a 'bargain basement item' are gone. With rising operating costs and rising taxes at the local levels, the cost of utility service, direct as well as indirect (including such portion of higher local taxes as may have to be im- posed as the result of the ab- sence of tax revenues from government-owned utility property) is almost certain to continue increasing over the long term. "Thus the consumer is en- tering a relatively new era of utility cost levels, whether he buys his power from investor- owned or government-owned sources. Sooner or later he may be forced to adopt a totally new concept of relating the cost of a utility service not to a price which existed at one time but to the value of the ser- vice "How valuable is it to have light, heat, communications and the necessities and conveniences in the home which are available because of the presence of electric or other forms of energy'? Can the consumer adopt a 'willingness' to pay for a utility service and assign to it a priority in the family budget because of the value of the service? Actually, the consumer has never been tested fully in this respect and never will at least not to the extent that his 'willingness' to pay was recently tested during the gasoline shortage "The consumer's attitude is critical to the industry If the consumer has understand- ing, an acceptance of higher rates is possible, provided the- service is good Until recently, the tre.'iUwn! iif the consumer from the standpoint of taking him into the con- fidence of the company and-nr the regulator has something tn be des.ireri Mr. van Lieu feels that a-- tion must be taken to create understanding and of utility profiler..' by the cun- surner, now tha! rates ris- ing and will rnntintif to rise "In the ultimate Mr van >h'.- lability lit the industr. derived from the nil- consumer In tomorrow's column I ii: Savings on Clearance, Pre-season and School Items Shop Thurs. Vi7 9 Little Boys' Jeans Cotton Quilted Long Robes regularly Here is a good back-to-school robe. 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