Is there anything the Rocky Mount City Council can do NOW to reduce the utility rates for our ratepayers? Yes, I say start with the ratepayers most in need of help.
Only charge the wholesale rate to households close to the Federal Poverty Line.
There are some things that each and every city council can do to help the most needy of us control our utility bills.
Yes, weatherization and energy audits are certainly keys to getting light bills under control. But, there are other ways to deal with the high cost.
First, I would look at the Federal poverty levels as it relates to Rocky Mount. I would suggest having a tiered electrical rate for Rocky Mount based on those Federal poverty guidelines. For example, the Federal Poverty Guidelines are as follows:
I would suggest that the City use this as a way to calculate a tiered utility rate. If a ratepayer falls within the scope of the FPG, that ratepayer would pay the wholesale rate for electricity. Not, the retail rate. The City isn’t losing money because they are still being paid at cost, and the ratepayer isn’t having to pay a premium that they surely can’t afford.
A bolder step for the Council would be to adjust up to 150% of the FPG to ensure no one falls through the cracks. These figures could also be tethered as a percentage below the utility retail rate to ensure no elderly or single parent households are literally left out in the cold. Therefore, a person in a single person household could make on a fixed income $15,000 per year and still be able to pay the Rocky Mount wholesale rate.
To me, this is an honest and brokered approach that is not only doable, but morally correct and ethical. Elderly people on fixed incomes should not have to make choices of going without food or medicine to pay a utility bill. Children in Rocky Mount should not have to go without the basic necessities because of these high light bills.
Again, this isn’t a end all solution to the utility problem. But, at least it is something, a start in the right direction, what will save the most needy of ratepayers precious dollars. A tiered approach relevant to the wholesale rate can most surely take some of the sting out, for our citizen who face poverty in Rocky Mount.