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Rocky Mount Residents May Play Role To Combat High Utility Bills

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — The Rocky Mount City Council is considering a plan that will give citizens a voice in dealing with rising utility bills.

Kay Bindrim homeschools her children, so they use heat, lights and water all day long, which takes a toll on utility bills.

"I would say $450 to $500 a month. Yeah, it's pretty high," she said.

The high utility bill is even tougher on Della Kent. Sometimes, she cannot pay it all at once, and charges pile up.

"I get $630 a month. My utility bill is $577. How can I live?" she said.

The complaints are nothing new to Rocky Mount city leaders. City councilwoman Angela Bryant said the council is pushing to bring back a citizens utility advisory board.

"We're facing a crisis with the highest utility bills we've ever experienced," she said.

The proposed 10-member group would be made up of utility customers from each city ward. The board would field complaints and help monitor rising energy costs.

"We're trying to get the citizens as much as possible in solving the problem in understanding the problem, and we want most of all for our citizens to feel like they're being treated fairly," Bryant said.

Bryant said high bills stem from a combination of rising energy costs, lack of energy efficient homes and the city budget relying heavily on utility revenue even after losing several large plants.

High utility bills played a role in the Bindrim family's decision to sell their house.

"We need a little more space, and we'd like to have a more energy-efficient house," Bindrim said.

The council plans to vote on adding a citizens advisory board at its meeting Monday. The board would not have authority to lower rates, but it would have a say in some of the decision-making.