The Fellowship of Accountability (The July 6th Public Hearing on CIP in Buffalo)

The message was crafted, the call sent, and the message was received. The accountability ring was cast, forged and its protectors stepped up to lead; a fellowship of community based organizations. As one of the protectors in this fellowship PUSH Buffalo lead a battalion of rate payers to Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo NY to join a rally of more than 300 rate payers. This rallying call took place right before the scheduled 3pm Public Hearing with National Fuel Gas (NFG) regulators. The Fellowship of Accountability also known as the National Fuel Accountability Coalition (NFAC), had for months been trying to get a meeting with the very powerful rulers of National Fuel Gas. We wished to discuss ways of ending the weatherization crisis in our area of the State namely the reformation of the Conservation Incentive Program (CIP). The Fellowship of Accountability demanded a public hearing on CIP and one was granted by the Public Service Commission (PSC) the council which regulates utilities in our land for July 6th 2011. The NFAC urged rate payers to come out and voice their concerns. The Public Hearing on CIP reform held in Downtown Buffalo was a great moment in the battle for weatherization and energy efficiency. PUSH Buffalo joined our brothers and sisters in the NFAC to demand change in how the CIP is now administered. We stood side by side with members of other battalions such as V.O.I.C.E. Buffalo, Dorian Gaskin/Outsource Center, F.A.T.H.E.R.S., Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ), our Niagara district Councilman David Rivera, County Legislator Maria Whyte, Buffalo Councilmen Demone Smith/Richard Fontana, the Youth Planning Council (YPC) and many others. There was much chanting, and sign carrying. Bob Cook of PUSH Buffalo and Voice Buffalo opened with words. The Rev. Bruce McKay of V.O.I.C.E. Buffalo then led all with a prayer. Inside the Public Hearing the NFAC presented its ideas for reforming the CIP for all of the land's rate payers. Speaker after speaker which most were NFG rate payers repeated the message that the CIP as it is currently administered is not addressing the problems associated with heating a home. One of these problems is high gas bills due to the fact that many houses in the Buffalo metropolitan area are old and need weatherization and repairs. Many rate payers particularly lower income pay for heat to literally go out their window. The rulers of National Fuel Gas were previously unaware of the scope of the Fellowship's mission. The Fellowship has been assembled and our journey is begun. See Below for media coverage of the event WIVB WBFO YNN Buffalo WKBW The Buffalo News