General manager John Young conducted a power-point presentation dedicated to anticipated questions regarding inordinately high utility bills he had warned would occur at the commission's previous meeting on January 8. Then commissioners Gerald Abercrombie, Jeff Thompson, Ulysses Cunningham, Brenda Curry and Parker Moore, the chairman, mainly listened as about 10 of the 12-15 customers told of receiving bills they could only afford at great hardship.
Forrest Johnson, a plumber, complained about unfairness in the reading of his water meter. He was the most vocal critic. Most of the stories were poignant requests for assistance and a lowering of rates. Commissioner Abercrombie asked several questions in a sympathetic vein, but mostly the commission listened and took down names and addresses. Moore promised each person that a CPW employee would follow up on each case.
Noting that most monthly meetings are attended only by media members, Moore thanked the customers for participating and said their comments were instructive
CPW bought nearly $1 million worth of both electricity and natural gas during January. The gas purchases ($952,792.45) were twice the monthly average.
Young's presentation explained why the bills rose so much, noted that the Commission's rates are below the statewide average, presented billing options designed to average the rates over the span of a year and made suggestions for saving money and seeking help from a church-centered assistance program to which CPW contributes.
The bottom line was that citizens were asking for assistance the commissioners agreed they could not reasonably provide.