10/08/08 — Pikeville looks to raise electric deposits

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Pikeville looks to raise electric deposits

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 8, 2008 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- The transient nature of some of Pikeville's renters leaves the town short on electrical profits when renters bail out on a $200 deposit, officials say.

Mayor Herbert Sieger and other officials say the $200 is too little, and they will vote again on raising the deposit to $400 after a public hearing in November.

The town has talked about raising the deposit rate in the past.

About two months ago, a group of concerned landlords asked the town not to raise the rate, Sieger said. The landlords said houses in Pikeville will be more difficult to rent if the deposit is raised, the mayor said.

"We did say we would do it for 90 days and try it, without changing the deposit," Sieger said. "This month we've lost $1,900 -- that's almost $4,000 in two months."

The town loses the money because some renters choose to leave their newly-rented homes before paying the bill, sacrificing their $200 deposit.

But Commissioner Lyman Galloway noted that with the ever-increasing cost of energy, the renters are the ones winning financially, not the town of Pikeville.

"The cheapest light bill on here is $410," Galloway said.

Town officials said they could ill afford to lose that money, and it would have adverse effects on the town if the pattern continued.

"We don't want our deposit (with ElectriCities, a non-profit organization that represents government power purchases) to go up, because we can't pay our bill," Commissioner Vance Greeson said.

Only Commissioner Edith McClenny voted against holding a public session in November to discuss raising the rate.

Greeson said that the discussion about rates directly relates to a pamphlet he plans to send to town homeowners.

The pamphlet tells Pikeville citizens about "load management" opportunities with Raleigh-based ElectriCities, which purchases its energy from Progress Energy.

Load management would require switches installed on appliances at Pikeville homes, allowing ElectriCities to reduce usage during peak hours.

But Greeson noted that some homes in Pikeville would not benefit even if such switches were installed.

"If they are running a dilapidated house, there's nothing that we can do," Greeson said, because any energy savings will slip through uninsulated windows and doors.

Greeson said with a recent tax increase, he dislikes raising the deposit for renters.

"I really hate to, but we don't have any choice," Greeson said.