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Rocky Mount residents face higher electric bills

Posted July 31, 2008

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— The city council voted this week to raise electric rates by another 11.5 percent. People in the area already struggling to pay high energy bills said the increase will be a hardship.

Njeri Fikes helps take care of her mother who is recovering from a stroke. Fikes said her mother lives alone in Rocky Mount and often struggles to pay the utility bill.

Fikes said her mother’s windows are covered in plastic to help with insulation. Despite the insulation, Fikes said her mother has paid electric bills totaling more than $500 a month, which is more than her mortgage payment.

“When you look at paying a utility bill that's more than some people pay for rent, that's a problem,” Fikes said.

The new rates take effect Friday. City leaders said the increase was necessary because its supplier recently raised rates by 14 percent.

“It’s going to be a lot of economic hardship for a lot of people,” Fikes said.

North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency officials cited increased energy production costs for the higher rate. Rocky Mount will pay about $9 million more a year in energy production costs.

“There's no way the city of Rocky Mount could absorb any part of that cost. We had no choice but to pass that on,” said Richard Worsinger, the city’s public utilities director.

Worsinger said Rocky Mount utility bills include all services, not just power.

Customers in Rocky Mount pay up to 20 percent more than people in the Triangle. The higher numbers is partly due to Rocky Mount paying off debt on generating stations.

“Our rate, the way any utilities rate is designed is to cover costs,” Worsinger said.

Rocky Mount city leaders will review the city’s energy assistance program again this winter to help meet additional need.

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  • fkhaywood Aug 1, 2008

    Any body with a $500.00 electric bills need to do some things to decrease their energy usage. Additional insulation. energy efficient applinces, change useage patterns. I live in an 1820 sq ft all elecetric home with the thermostat set in the mid 70's and my electric bill in at most $180.00. That kind of bill is not the result of high electric rates, it is the result of abnormal useage by the owner!!
    Note: I am an electrical engineer that worked for Progress Energy for 30+ years.

  • enoughsenough Aug 1, 2008

    The unemployment rate in Edgecombe county is @ 10.5 % last I heard, the last thing these folks need is a higher electric bill.

  • vipclean Jul 31, 2008

    The city council in Rocky Mount needs to make some drastic changes in the management of the city. The waste in their spending is unbelievable. All the while, they have not made any serious effort to retire their debt to ElectriCities. If, as I have been told, the debt to them is 444 million, then try this equation. Divide that total by the cities popultaiton of about 56K. Then multiply that by the number of people in your household. That is your portion of the bill. I would owe approx. 40K! This goes unreported and ignored. The solution, raise utility rates! All the while the debt remains in place.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 31, 2008

    Wow I have had some high bills but not five hundred dollars. I do however expect to see that in a year or two. The Legislature sold us out to the power companies. So this poor woman will probably see much higher than that down the road.