This blog was written by Alissa Schafer, former Solar Policy & Communications Manager at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Guest Blog | February 21, 2019 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Tennessee
If you live in Knoxville and you’ve been driving around town, you may have noticed some interesting billboards asking KUB to Freeze the Fees. But what’s that all about? It’s about KUB’s fixed fee increase. Since 2010, KUB has increased this mandatory fee from $6 to $19 and its still going higher. KUB customer now pay $228 a year just for the “privilege” to get electricity from their local monopoly. That’s why SACE staff, under our statewide campaign called Renew Tennessee, wanted to raise awareness about this serious issue: Putting billboards up across town so KUB feels the heat and more ratepayers are educated about this issue.
In January SACE staffers delivered our first 800 petitions directly to the KUB Board alongside customers who were feeling the impacts of high bills. Today, we took it to the next level, delivering an additional 1,700 petitions (now totaling over 2,500 petitions and growing). Over 30 customers packed the room at the board meeting in the middle of work day to protest high fixed fees on monthly power bills to the KUB board at this month’s meeting. In addition to hand delivering the petitions, customers spoke out before the meeting and during the public comment portion, sharing stories of how the regressive rate design of steadily-increasing fixed fees is a bad move for the community:
TaShawn Ransome, a young mother currently living in public housing, shared the tough decisions she needs to make each month when the temperatures drop. “People struggle to pay their KUB bills during the winter months,” she stated. “It’s either we choose to freeze inside the house or have outrageous bill.”
Senior citizen Kent Minault drew a comparison to the tripling number of signed petitions since last month: “You know what else has tripled? The monthly electric fee that KUB customers are paying every month before they even turn on a light,” he said. “The electric fees have been quietly increased over past few years and are currently at $19 every month – $228 a year. The KUB board and executives need to understand that high fixed fees are simply a bad practice and hurting their community.”
Jake Glass, a student at University of Tennessee, spoke about how tough it is to manage monthly costs on a limited student income when the fees keep going up no matter how cold they keep the house.
Bruce Glanville, owner of a local energy efficiency business, shared how bill designs like KUB’s that include high fixed fees actually de-incentivize people from being thrifty with their energy because the fees remain high even as customers use less power.
When the meeting concluded, acting in typical monopoly fashion the Board still refused to Freeze the Fee. KUB continues to ignore thousands of their customers’ voices. Meanwhile, the $19 a month fixed fee is regressive and continues to hurt small business owners and low-income families, those on a fixed income like students, the elderly, single resident households, all while this fixed fees limit customers ability to control their bills and discourage renewable energy growth in the KUB service territory.
That’s why we’ll continue to fight until KUB commits to Freeze the Fees and we need you to join us so we can continue to ramp up the pressure. If you’re a KUB customer, please join the movement: Sign the petition and share your story as we continue to ramp up the campaign to protect our community! Read stories from other customers, here.