Concerned and suffering citizens have one message: Freeze the Fees!
Knoxville, Tenn. – In a follow up to last month’s 800 petitions delivered to the Knoxville Utilities Board at their January meeting, today over 30 customers gathered in the middle of work day to deliver more than 1,700 new petitions protesting high fixed fees on monthly power bills to the KUB board at this month’s meeting bringing the total number of #FreezeTheFees petitions to over 2,500, and still growing. 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.
“KUB’s continuing to raise mandatory fixed fees on customers is regressive, lazy rate making that hurts citizens and sends the wrong markets signals needed to help customers to control their bills,” stated Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Thousands of KUB customers have spoken out against these unnecessary fixed fee increases, but the Board and staff of the KUB monopoly utility continue to ignore their customers voices, even as they pat themselves on the back with self congratulatory remarks at their meetings. The fact that over 2,500 people have signed petitions telling KUB to #FreezeTheFees, the fact that nearly 800 people have taken the time to share their personal stories about how these fees affect them, the fact that we are in a standing room only meeting here in the middle of a work day – all of this should get their attention, and yet they continue to be dismissive of the ‘public’ part of Public Power that they are supposed to be serving.”