200-225 PERCENT RATE INCREASES HAVE RESIDENTS STEAMING MAD …
|| By FITSNEWS || It’s been a hot, muggy summer … resulting in higher energy costs for consumers all over the Southeast. But in one small South Carolina town, these rate hikes have gotten ridiculous.
We’re talking about 200-225 percent increases in energy bills from one month to the next … astronomical increases that far exceed the impact of the higher temperatures.
This disconnect has resulted in a new kind of heat … the kind generated by popular outrage.
Clinton, S.C. is a town of roughly 9,000 people located in the Upstate region of the Palmetto State. Incorporated in 1852, it was named after Henry Clinton Young – an attorney who laid out its streets.
On a balmy Monday evening this week, dozens of town residents gathered to voice their discontent with soaring energy bills.
“There are citizens who have seen significant increases in their power bill, and there are businesses which have considered leaving due to the increasing electric rates,” said Clinton mayor Bob McLean. “Over the course of the next month, I along with other members of (town) council, will investigate this spike in electricity, and will map out a way to help cut our losses and reduce rates going forward.”
From June to July, the average increase for city power customers was between 200-225 percent according to a source familiar with the rate hikes.
“Most of the local mom and pop businesses are affected, with some even stating that they may close their doors,” the source said.
For those of you keeping score at home, the median annual household income in Clinton is less than $28,000 – well below South Carolina’s abysmal rate of $44,163 (which is itself one of the lowest rates in the nation).
In other words these are people who cannot afford to pay such exorbitant rate increases.
Clinton’s city manger Frank Stovall has tried to pass the rate hikes off on hot temperatures.
“That’s B.S.,” our source said.
People who live outside the city limits (and receive their energy from a local cooperative as opposed to the city’s provider) saw monthly bills in the neighborhood of $250- $350. City of Clinton residents? Their bills fell in the $450-$900 range.
So if not higher temps … what’s driving the discrepancy?
“What Stovall didn’t tell people is that they are using funds from the electric bills to cover the cost of water and sanitation services, two departments (which) are operating at a loss,” our source said.
Mayor McLean referenced these two departments in his comments regarding the rate hike fiasco, saying they needed to become “self-sufficient.”
Unfortunately, McLean only has two members of Clinton’s city council supporting his efforts. Stovall has four backing him – giving him a governing majority.
So … how will the simmering drama ultimately play out?
That remains to be seen …
If the town of Clinton wants to stay in business, though, its leaders should probably consider that whole “self-sufficiency” thing for its money-losing departments rather than sticking cash-strapped residents and businesses with ever-escalating bills they can’t afford to pay.