Electric rates focus for Malden residents and city leaders - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Electric rates focus for Malden residents and city leaders

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The city administrator says the city wants to let people know they are working on a plan to lower rates. The city administrator says the city wants to let people know they are working on a plan to lower rates.
Last month Amon paid $591 for his home. Last month Amon paid $591 for his home.
City Administrator Ted Bellers says the city knows people are hurting. City Administrator Ted Bellers says the city knows people are hurting.

MALDEN, MO (KFVS) - What's behind what residents call outrageous electric bills in Malden? People say nothing has changed on their end, yet bills have gone up by the hundreds in just a few years.

"We have had a tremendous increase and there's no stopping it," said John Amon.

Amon is one of many Malden residents who don't understand why his electric bill is so high.

"I talked to people from the coffee shop on out all suffering big bills ways bigger than we have ever seen," said Amon. "Some people say they can't afford their medications. Mine has gone up by the hundreds and I don't know what else to do."

Last month Amon paid $591 for his home.  

"I personally have done all I can to insulate my house, and bottom line I don't know what an individual could do," said Amon. "We're all concerned. I worry the city has taken on too much."

City Administrator Ted Bellers says the city knows people are hurting.

"When we lose industry we lose sales it does hit us all," said Bellers.

Bellers says to fully understand today's high rates you have to go back more than five years.  

That's when Malden bought electricity from an Arkansas company, Plum Point, largely because they were expecting Federal Mogul, a big electric customer to help foot the bill. However, Federal Mogul ended up pulling out of town in 2007. 

"It's like having a house that's too big," said Bellers. "You have to pay for the whole house. When you lose this industry it impacts the whole town economically because the sale of that energy is no longer there to be made and people have to pay that. We are trying to sell part of our capacity now."

Bellers says the city wants to let people know they are working on a plan to lower rates. That plan would mean finding another city in Arkansas to take on part of the use of Plum Point. If that happens it would eventually lower rates 17 percent by 2014. Bellers says within the next few months a deal should be finalized.

"It's a really complicated problem without an easy fix," said Bellers. "The drought also makes it hard because the hydro power we buy isn't available. There's lots of factors."

Residents should see some relief soon because a capital improvements tax left over from the 2009 ice storm is soon going away. That should lessen bills by about 7 to 8 percent.

City leaders invite the public to the board meeting at the utility office Tuesday at 5 p.m. if they have questions.

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