02/17/10 — Fremont residents complain about power rates

View Archive

Fremont residents complain about power rates

By Laura Collins
Published in News on February 17, 2010 1:46 PM

More than 30 Fremont residents attended Tuesday night's Board of Aldermen meeting to discuss their electric bills.

At their December meeting, board members decided that beginning in January, the town was going to increase electric rates by 4 percent. A 4-percent increase on a $300 electric bill is only $12 more, but residents said they saw their bills jump hundreds of dollars.

"We don't have the jobs in Fremont to pay the light bill," said Milton Lane, who said his electric bill went from $200 to $500.

Chauncey Simms asked why there was such a large increase in the bills. He said a lot of people in Fremont live on a fixed income, just because the electric rates increase, doesn't mean their income is increasing.

Shirley Coley said her light bill was $400. She said there needs to be some sort of assistance program or social service in Fremont so people can get financial help with their electric bill.

"We are here pleading for you to help us stay in Fremont," she told the board.

William Harvey said his light bill was $489 and that after paying his bill and rent, he only had $63 left.

"This is not called for, because either you mismanaged your money or something else happened," he said.

Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said the town was losing about $7,000 a month on electricity, the difference between the amount it was collecting from the town and the amount it was paying its electricity provider, ElectriCities.

McDuffie attributed the gap to a 4-percent increase in the cost of electricity instituted last February by ElectriCities on the town.

In response to the concern expressed by some of the citizens, McDuffie said the town is offering an energy saving class at 7 p.m. March 2. Many residents in attendance said they did not need help saving energy and would not attend the energy saving class.

Board members said raising the electric rates was somewhat of "bad timing" since the rates increased at the same time the weather got colder, which can account for some of the drastic increase. Board members also questioned the accuracy of the meters.

"I believe they are working properly," McDuffie said. "This past March, April and May we replaced all the residential meters."

Also at the meeting, the board said bulk pickup starts 7:30 a.m. March 9 and the Daffodil Festival is March 27.