A long time consumer activist, as founder of TURN (Toward Utility Rate Normalization) in 1973, Sylvia Siegel became the main protagonist and protector of all utility-paying consumers. After finding that no one was really challenging the utilities companies, Ms. Siegel became a self-taught expert of complicated utility law.
Ms. Siegel’s work led to the utility industry changing its rate structure to eliminate a discount for increased usage, so that it now supports reduced use. Her efforts also helped to mandate a “lifeline rate” – a minimum amount of gas and electric made available at reasonable rates for those who needed it most: The segment of the population on fixed incomes.
She utilized her ability to interpret complicated data and communicate the findings into the “everyday language that consumers can understand,” as she said, and make it “juicy” enough so that people would listen. Among some 250 consumer advocates in California, Ms. Siegel became the most visible and viable advocate in the state. Upon her retirement from TURN, she was hired by the Marin County Board of Supervisors to represent the interest of the consumers of Marin with Viacom Cable. She went on to organize a statewide group called Consumers Cable Commission.
After being elected to the Marin Health Care District Board, Ms. Siegel continued to be an active advocate and voice of the consumer, and served her second term on the Board of KQED.
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