Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for March 22, 2009

From the Southern Illinoisan...

Link to Original Story

Cairo residents facing steep electricity costs


CAIRO - A statewide organization aimed at community service has plans to help residents pursue legal action against the city's electric provider.

Nicholette Dolin, a community development specialist with the Illinois Coalition for Community Services, said Cairo residents have been faced with extremely high prices and no one has been responding to citizens' comments.

"We're just getting completely stonewalled, and there's just no communication," she said.

Concerns of residents are not like those shared by residents throughout the rest of the state, Dolin said. Some Cairo residents have been faced consistently with bills of more than $800. High rates can be traced to a 30-year lease agreement formed in the mid-1990s that created the Cairo Public Utility Co.

City Clerk Lorrie Hasselrode said the utility company is owned by the city but operates as its own entity under the lease agreement.

"We can't do anything about the utility costs," she said.

Calls to the utility company were not returned Friday.

Flora Chambliss, president of the Concerned Citizens for the Recovery of Cairo, said she installed a furnace with 93 percent efficiency last year but still had multiple bills of more than $800 through the winter months. During January's ice storm - when she was without electricity for five days - her utility bill still reached the $800 mark, she said.

"We're trying every angle we can," she said of working with ICCS to find someone to undertake legal action. "This just keeps going on and no one seems willing to help."

A spokesman for state Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, said the senator is aware of the high utility prices in Cairo but that no complaints have been received recently.

Voice concern

What: A public forum to raise concerns about utility rates

Where: Cairo Senior Citizen Center

When: 6 p.m. April 2