A handful of customers visited the Knoxville Utilities Board meeting Thursday to protest its “basic fee.”
The basic fee is $19 – added to each month’s utility bill, before the power is turned on.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy collected over 2,500 petition signatures from the community, asking KUB to “freeze the fee,” and at a minimum, ask for fees to be frozen instead of constantly increase, but their ideal goal would be to have utility bills be strictly based on energy usage.
“These fees are regressive because they hurt low-income seniors and students – people who use less power,” says Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance For Clean Energy.
Single parent and student Tashawn Ransome says, “If I try to conserve because I’m very conservative, I still have a high bill so it’s really hard to pay the bill if you’re working on a fixed income and you’re trying to conserve but that’s not helping. It kind of defeats the purpose.”
WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with KUB about these concerns. They tell us this basic fee helps pay for things like downed power lines and poles, along with tree-trimming.
KUB communications saying the fee also helps the organization plan for future projects.
“Of course we hear them,” says KUB spokeswoman Stephanie Midget. “This is a great way for people to have their voice heard. Our board meetings are open to the public and we encourage those people with concerns to come speak to our board.”
KUB hosts public board meetings at its Gay Street offices monthly, every third Thursday except for the month of July.