Amid complaints of high rates, Franklin says it’s not gouging residents with utility bills

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FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Viewers In Franklin have complained to 10 On Your Side in the past about their utility bills — and this year is no different. They say it’s tough to budget when your utility bill is higher than your rent.

“Last year it was horrible!” said Carzette Perry-Phelps, remembering last February when she lived in a different house, and the mercury in Franklin plunged below zero.

“The electricty bill was more than the rent. The rent was like $750 and the electricity bill would come in a month between $850 to a $1,000. Per month.”

PREVIOUS: What will the city of Franklin do about high power bills?

Now she lives in a house on Pine Street. The home has newer windows and better insulation, but she’s still worried.

“This month’s bill came, it was $347 currently, and it’s due on the 20th.”

It’s important to note that utility bills in Franklin cover four services: electricty, water, sewage and garbage pickup. The city says its rates are not out of line.

“The power rates are representative of the cost to run the electric utlity,” said Interim City Manager Clarence Monday. “Franklin’s rates are commensurate with the rate that we have to provide power to our citizens.”

The city-owned utility points to an audit done last summer by an outside firm, Bellwether Innovative Management Solutions of Cornelius, NC. It found that customers were billed correctly and no disrepancies were noted.

The head of Franklin Power and Light Mark Bly said usage depends on the age and condition of the heating system and water tank, how energy efficient the home is, and whether portable electrical heaters are used.

Perry-Phelps says the cost to stay warm in the winter comes with some tough choices.

“Either choose between geting your medicine or getting me and my four kids something to eat, just to pay our light bill.”

A small business owner says one of the reasons he relocated from Franklin was the high utility bills.

The city says anyone can request an energy audit to see how energy-efficient your heating system and your home really are.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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