03/09/11 — Pikeville sore over rates for electricity

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Pikeville sore over rates for electricity

By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 9, 2011 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Members of the Pikeville Board of Commissioners expressed frustration over the town's contract with electric service provider ElectriCities at Monday night's board meeting.

The issue, which has some Pikeville residents upset over what they consider steep rates for service, was raised by Town Commissioner Dennis Lewis during the meeting's public forum.

Board members referred to the service provider as a "glorified middle man" between Progress Energy and the citizens of Pikeville and that "ElectriCities has no interest in helping us."

"The electricity rate in Pikeville is 25 to 30 percent higher than a half mile outside of town," Lewis said.

Pikeville residents are currently facing the highest rates for the electric service that was outlined in a contract that went into effect in the mid-1980s, Lewis said.

For the first 15 years, the rates were relatively low, Lewis admitted. But now the rates are at their peak, and with the economy still unstable and the price of gas rising, residents are feeling the pressure, he said.

Down the road, electric rates are expected to drop, according to the fee schedule in the contract. But the contract gives the town no other options for the time being, Lewis said, adding that "The contract is the most well-written manuscript I have ever read next to the Holy Bible and the Constitution."

Lewis said Pikeville had an opportunity several years ago to cut ties with ElectriCities in 2026, but failed to send the company a letter of notification to prevent the contract from automatically renewing until about 2046, he said.

Lewis said getting involved with ElectriCities was a poor decision from the start. Other board members said they feared the high electric rates would stifle growth for the next few years and might even convince some people to consider leaving town.

Board members agreed to continue to pursue ways of getting out of the contract, but no determination of how to proceed was discussed.