Utility customers get answersPublished 11:00am Saturday, March 16, 2013
BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
FRANKLIN—Since meeting directly with citizens after Monday’s Franklin City Council meeting, City Manager Randy Martin has helped some of them discover the culprits behind their escalating utility bills.
“We have found no malfunction technology, as far as our meters. They are working properly,” he said.
However, Martin did find, while working with one customer who voiced her concerns during Monday’s meeting, a malfunctioning heating unit.
“The malfunctioning heating unit caused an inflated usage. Her monthly power consumption was around 3,800, according to her last utility bill” he said.
The average monthly kilowatt usage of a residence in the City of Franklin is around 1,300.
“It is because of situations like this that I want to hear specific citizens’ concerns, because each situation is different,” Martin said. “It is imperative that individuals voice their concerns of elevated usage.”
Franklin Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn requests that citizens bring their individual concerns to City Hall.
“We want to give attention to each individual person’s concerns,” Johnson-Ashburn said. “The more people come to us with those concerns, the better our research can go into helping everyone.”
No request or concern will be ignored, she noted.
“City staff is working diligently to find answers for our citizens,” Johnson-Ashburn continued. “We are moving and progressing to answer concerns, but we ask for patience and time to conduct all the necessary research.”
The Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills group, who presented their concerns by asking city council for an investigation into the high utility rates Monday, does not want the issue swept under the rug said Dr. Lynwood Johnson, group spokesperson.
“We have people on fixed incomes that have bills escalating beyond their incomes,” he said. “We want answers as to why the rates are fluctuating so much. This is not just a Southside issue this is a city-wide issue.”
Franklin Utility rates do not vary in different areas of the city, but they do vary during the year. When a customer uses more than 800-kilowatt hours during October through May the rate is $0.07563, as compared to $0.10612 for June through September.
“Those rates are a way to level out the impact to our citizens during the winter months,” Martin explained.
City leaders plan to have a demonstration to show citizens how meters are read and address other concerns associated with utility bills Martin noted.
“I will be contacting members of the citizen group about setting up a demonstration as well as demonstrations to council members,” he said.
Johnson notes the citizen’s group is planning to take part in the meter reading demonstration.
“But at the same time, the bills are too high and we need a solution,” he said. “The citizens need a quick solution. They feel such a burden.”
Martin will report his findings from the energy audits and other citizen complaints during the March 25 City Council meeting.
“Hopefully through this entire process we can educate citizens on the electric process, as well as find ways of lowering their electric consumption,” Martin said.