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Hogansville hears complaints over high utility bills

One local resident presented concerns about utility bills during Monday night’s Hogansville City Council after he received a bill for more than $1,000.

“You know, there’s always talk with utilities and everything but this particular month, for whatever reason, it became quite apparent,” said resident Jake Ayers. “I’m sure you guys are aware based on Facebook. I always kind of just put it to the wind.”

Ayers said he lives in a 3000-square foot, older home and his utility bill is typically $400. This month it was three and a half times that at $1,400.

“I just have a really hard time understanding and seeing how that’s possible, and I had a $700 gas bill,” Ayers said. “I wanted to just figure out if there was a way to approach the conversation unanimously so that we can try to figure out if there are any issues, whether it’s meters, whether I need to have an updated electrical meter. In five years, I’ve never really had this much of an issue, or I’ve always just kind of kept it to myself.”

City Manager Jonathan Lynn said they looked over multiple bills on Sunday and had a meter reader go out and double check meters within the community where there had been high bills.

“We also examined what the weather patterns were and unfortunately, at this point, we haven’t found any inconsistency other than it was a really cold December,” Lynn said. “There were 34 or 35 days in each of your bills. My bill doubled as well. Once you get past a certain threshold, you pay a higher rate for higher usage. However, if you think there really is something wrong with your bill, and I encourage anyone to do this, call city hall, we’ll walk you through your bill.”

Lynn said they were able to find homes with water leaks after getting calls of high bills.

“We did go back, and we had an extraordinarily large number of days that were 43 degrees or below for the month of December, which ironically, we don’t typically have in this region,” Lynn said. “There’s a lot of factors we think played into that.”

Mayor Bill Stankiewicz noted that the electric rates for the city is less than the average for Georgia Power and the gas rate is less than the Atlanta gas and light rate.

“I want to say I’ve got some bad news and that is rates will not be going down,” Stankiewicz said. “Rates will be going up substantially.”

Stankiewicz said this is due to MEAG Power and Georgia Power closing down coal powered plants in the coming future.

“That power will be substituted for the most part with Plant Vogtle three and four nuclear plants,” Stankiewicz said. “It’s cleaner and emits no carbons, but it is substantially more expensive than coal power plants. So, your electric rate is going up.”

Plant Vogtle Units three and four will be the first new nuclear units built in the United States in the last three decades. Once complete, the Vogtle site will produce enough electricity to power one million Georgia homes and businesses.

Commercial operations are expected to begin in November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for unit 4.

Also during Monday night’s Hogansville City Council meeting, the city recognized public works employee Robert Parham.

Parham has been with the city for 10 years.

“Most of you may not know Robert by name but if you see anybody operating any sort of heavy machinery, digging ditches, digging holes or digging water lines he is on that machine,” Lynn said. “That is his machine. Ask him and he will tell you that is his machine. I can tell you from a city side, we don’t want anybody else operating it because I don’t know what we would do without him.”