A separate resolution also passes calling for a Community Advisory Panel to increase citizen involvement at KUB
Knoxville, Tenn. – Today, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) Board of Commissioners adopted two resolutions in order to address issues raised by the ACT on KUB campaign earlier this summer. The first resolution freezes the residential basic service charge, or fixed fee, for five years beginning in 2021. The second resolution establishes a Community Advisory Panel that will serve as a conduit of communication between community interest representatives and the KUB Board of Commissioners concerning major policy issues.
The two indefinite resolutions are the result of negotiations between Mayor Kincannon’s office and KUB’s executive staff to implement some of the reforms sought by the ACT on KUB campaign’s proposed City Charter amendment, which was sponsored by City Councilmembers Seema Singh and Amelia Parker.
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said, “The purpose ACT on KUB coalition and our proposed City Charter amendment changes were for the customers of KUB who are deserving of more accountability, cost-savings, and transparency from the public utility that serves their needs. These modest but important actions by KUB’s Board are a step in the right direction. There is clearly a need for more communication with, and education of, KUB’s leadership on these points. We look forward to the continued dialogue.”
Even though the resolutions do not achieve all of the proposed reforms the ACT on KUB coalition advocated for, the Board’s actions today represent true progress and will genuinely help customers. In particular, by extending through 2025 the freeze of fixed fees that the Board agreed to last year, customers will have extended relief from the trend of steady annual hikes on the basic service charge that took place over the last decade. After 2025, any fixed fee hikes must be first subject to a thorough analysis and cost of service study before being implemented.
Reverend Calvin Taylor Skinner, Co-founder and Convener of One Knox Legacy Coalition, said, “Positive steps toward the future truly entail lifting up the voices of the people who have the least economic advantages in the “land of opportunity.” This means including ALL people in decision-making within our public enterprises—even in everyday, essential matters such as the structuring of Knoxville Utilities Board. As Martin Luther King, Jr. succinctly foreshadowed the appropriate posture of our time: ‘The fierce urgency of now’ calls us to recognize this is the time for sustainable reform, including for the most economically disenfranchised.”
We hope that KUB’s commitment to rigorous study before any future fixed fee hikes and its willingness to hear from community leaders through appointing a Community Advisory Panel will help keep the fixed fees from increasing any further for many years in the future.
As Bri Knisley, Tennessee Field Coordinator at Appalachian Voices, said, “Energy and water are basic resources that everyone in our community needs, and KUB customers deserve a say in how decisions are made around these resources. A Community Advisory Panel at KUB will bring community representatives to this essential decision-making table.”
We appreciate Councilmembers Amelia Parker and Seema Singh for sponsoring and shepherding the ACT on KUB proposed charter amendment through the City Council process.
Looking forward, Seema Singh, Knoxville City Councilmember, said, “I would like to see conversations begin around ending basic fees and only charging based on usage.”
Additionally, we appreciate the KUB executive staff and Board for taking positive steps to address pressing energy issues in Knoxville brought forth by the ACT on KUB coalition. The extension of freezing fixed fees for the next five years and appointing a Community Advisory Panel are both measures that will promote more accountability, cost-savings, and transparency for all KUB customers.
Kent Minault, Political Chair of the Sierra Club – Harvey Broome Group, said, “Sierra Club is grateful to KUB for working through an occasionally contentious process and starting a public advisory committee as well as freezing the fees for the next five years.”
Now, all eyes shift to Mayor Kincannon as she nominates a new board member late this year, knowing that the community is calling for low-income representation on the board. While not discussed at the Board meeting today, as part of the Mayor’s compromise resolution the Board agreed to limit the amount of time Commissioners serve from two terms of seven years to one term. Initially, the ACT on KUB coalition called for a change to two terms of four years each.
About the ACT on KUB Coalition
The ACT on KUB coalition is made up of bill payers, community groups, and elected officials seeking more Accountability, Cost-Savings, and Transparency from the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB). The coalition initially campaigned for an amendment to Knoxville’s City Charter to be voted on November’s ballot to achieve these goals and continues to stay involved with energy issues in Knoxville. Learn more at ACTonKUB.org.
MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS OF ACT ON KUB COALITION
Seema Singh, Knoxville City Councilmember
Amelia Parker, Knoxville City Councilmember
Gloria Johnson, Representative for U.S. House, District 13
Knoxville Organizations + Individuals
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
One Knox Legacy Coalition
Community Voices’ Affordable Utilities Council
Sierra Club – Harvey Broome Group
Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCM)
Tennessee American Promise
Underground Ground Collective / Battlefield Farms
Marshall Stair, Knoxville City Councilmember (2011-2019) and Candidate for Knoxville City Mayor (2019)
Matthew Park, Candidate for Tennessee State House (no longer running)
Renee Hoyos, Candidate for U.S. House, District 2