Rocky Mount Residents Gather to Discuss High Heating Costs
Posted February 9, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST
ROCKY MOUNT — The high price of heating fuel has left many families struggling to pay their utility bills. Rocky Mount residents crowded into a town hall meeting Saturday to sound off and find solutions.
The city provides utilities to 30,000 customers. By Rocky Mount's own estimate, as many as 4,000 residents cannot afford their heating bills this winter.
Teresa Chandler's family lost their house during the 1999 flood. She usually spends about $200 a month on utilities. This winter, her bill jumped to $450 a month.
"Where do you go? What do you do?" she wondered.
City leaders blame the high cost of heating fuel and an unusually cold winter. They are looking at how they do business and how their decisions can help customers. One idea is to buy more gas year-round, getting better prices for the fuel and sharing that with customers.
There is some immediate help on the way. Currently, the city gives out $4,000 a week to help people who cannot pay their home heating bills. Those payments will increase to $10,000 a week. The city will also give customers until October to pay their bills.
Leaders will also ask state and federal governments for some emergency funding.