Let’s go to a small town in Gainesville, Va. where 87-year-old Rosie Thomas and her neighbors thought they had beaten Amazon.
Sadly, they discovered that they are actually paying part of Amazon’s electric bills.
The community was rising up against Dominion Energy Inc.,
Virginia’s largest utility company laying above-ground power lines straight through a Civil War Battlefield and Thomas’s property to serve Amazon.
It took 3 years of petitions and protests in front of gated gates, which in the end had Dominion agree to bury part of the lines along a highway nearby, at a cost of approximately $172 million.
What do you think happened within a month? This $172 million cost was passed on to Thomas and her fellow Virginians.
Amazingly enough, Dominion convinced the State’s House of Delegates to approve raising the money needed to pay for the Amazon line by adding a monthly fee to its utility users.
Thomas, who is already struggling to pay her monthly bill, was flabbergasted about hearing this news. “Amazon’s got all the money they ever needed,” she says, shaking her head. “They don’t need anymore.”
For Amazon, this is becoming a pattern with some operating costs, the largest being electricity consumption
Amazon is fast-growing and highly profitable, but it does have large expenses.
Amazon in just the last two years has almost doubled in size worldwide. The giant, in at least two states, has negotiated with utility providers and politicians to forward much of its operating costs on to the common folk.
The company also receives state and municipal tax incentives. Amazon has gone from nonexistent to using 2 percent of U.S. electricity in about a decade.
Electricity deals between Amazon are easier to keep hidden, unlike tax incentives which have to be at some point disclosed to the public. It is decidedly difficult to see who is subsidizing Amazon’s electric bills.
For example, in 2016 it received a discount rate of unknown numbers from American Electric Power in Ohio. While receiving $77 million in tax incentives for three data centers.
So now other businesses and households in Ohio are bearing all the costs. How much, no one really knows?
But one thing is for certain, greater transparency is needed, requiring changes in States’ regulatory filings.
It needs to be clear who is really paying or subsidizing Amazon’s electric bills
Thomas is worried that this deal with the world’s richest man will cost her the house she’s lived in for 50 years.
Sonia Rina Davies is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses both online and offline.