NOTE: The following article originally ran in the March 12, 1975, edition of the Albany Democrat-Herald.
BROWNSVILLE — Lucy Thompson thinks if utility companies watched watts as closely as they ask the public to do, they wouldn't need rate increases currently requested.
So Mrs. Thompson is asking residents here to shut off lights and gas for 24 hours starting at midnight March 22.
She says the "Black Sunday" demonstration will provide a visible protest to increase rates asked by Pacific Power & Light Co. and Northwest Natural Gas Co.
"There is a lot of waste and inefficiency in these companies that could be cut out instead of passing higher rates onto the consumer," Mrs. Thompson says.
She says the "Black Sunday" idea came out of this week's Brownsville City Council meeting. The council endorsed the idea and voted unanimously to oppose the rate increases.
Pacific Power is asking for an $18 million rate increase and Northwest Natural Gas is seeking a $4.1 million rate hike.
"I think there is a lot of enthusiasm for this (Black Sunday)," Mrs. Thompson notes. "It's running high."
She says the committee will not ask organizers of a flea market to be held that day in the city recreation center to participate.
"This is a voluntary thing," she stresses. "The committee is drafting guidelines to ensure the safety of all.
"But I think this could be a real plus. I can see people visiting each other and gathering around the fireplace rather than staring at the boob tube. This can be fun and not gloomy at all."
DID IT SUCCEED?
Well, kinda yes and sorta no. Interviewed for the Monday, March 24, issue (there was no Sunday edition at the time), Thompson said that an estimated 50 percent of Brownsville homes participated in the protest. Most Main Street businesses kept their security lights on, while the Safari Restaurant made do with kerosene lamps and a minimum of electricity for cooking.
Some residents, like Jim Richmond, fully supported the effort, claiming, "It's about time something drastic happened in this country." Others, like Joyce McMahon, were indifferent: "I didn't feel it would do any good. If they're going to raise it (rates), they're going to raise it no matter what people do." Still others, like Becky Watkins, weren't even aware of it.