Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for March 27, 2009

From the WSIL TV Channel 3 Website...

Link to Original Story

Cairo Residents Upset About High Utility Rates

By: Rachel Gartner

ALEXANDER COUNTY-- It's already a struggle for many people to make ends meet in Cairo, which has one of the highest unemployment rates around. And some residents say the cost of power is only adding to the town's downfall.

Zola Fuller lives in this modest 2-bedroom home in the heart of Cairo. This month her gas and electric cost her $275; last month it was close to $600.

"They're just high."

Zola, like many residents and business owners in the once bustling riverside town, says it's a struggle for her to pay the bill.

"How do you eat? How do you get clothing and other things? And if you have children, how do you take care of your kids?"

Zola says she's even cut back on her usage, but it doesn't make a dent.

"Whatever you can do to cut back, and they're still high."

Zola, like all Cairo residents, gets her gas and power from the Cairo Public Utility Company. We asked General Manger, Larry Klein, to compare Ameren rates with CPUC rates.

Electric rates were almost the same, differing by only one penny. But, the natural gas comparison was shocking. Ameren charges about 75-cents a unit, while CPUC charges double that at $1.50.

Klein would not go on camera, but he did say: "I'm not proud of our natural gas rates."

He partially blames the rates on the upkeep of an oversized utility infrastructure based on the city's shrinking population.

"People in the community cannot provide for themselves because all of their income is being drained by the utilities," says Illinois Coalition for Community Services member, Nicholette Dolin.

The Illinois Coalition for Community Services are now involved in the situation. They say the city has ignored the community outcry for too long.

"If we get the documentation and we get the community members rallied together and we keep at it and we don't give up and we don't let it go any longer- then maybe this time we can get something done about it."

For Zola, this is a time for the residents of Cairo to unites, "Its time to do something. Its time to take action to save our town."

Cairo's mayor was not available for comment on this story.

There will be a public meeting to discuss the high rates. Anyone who comes is encouraged to bring along their electric and gas bills. The meeting will be held at the Cairo Senior Center on April 2nd at 6pm.