Seniors irate over electric rate increases |

Seniors irate over electric rate increases

Photo by Josh MillerResidents at the Truckee Senior Center hold their bills in protest. The seniors approached the PUD board Wednesday, upset over electricity rates.

Angered by rising electricity bills, approximately 20 residents of the Truckee Donner Senior Apartments arrived at the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s regularly scheduled board of directors meeting on Wednesday to make their grievances heard.

According to the spokesperson for the group, Lucy Greene, many seniors living in the apartments have seen their electricity bills increase by as much as 67 percent compared to last year.

That can make a big difference considering many of the seniors make less than $800 per month.

At the meeting, Truckee Donner Senior Apartments resident Sally Pritchard displayed her most recent electric bill for $127, an amount she felt was shockingly high given that she lives in a modest 600-square-foot apartment.

Other seniors who attended the meeting claimed to have bills for more than $200, a situation that Greene felt was untenable for most of the seniors who live on a fixed income.

“It’s bad enough when you don’t make a lot to have to pay $200 on utilities,” Green said. “The seniors are just having a fit. They get their electric bills and they’re so upset… I’m not saying it’s the PUD’s fault. I think a lot of it is probably with the complex. That’s why I came here tonight, to see where the fault lies.”

Susan Stamps agreed, “We just really want to know what’s going on. It’s not a fight, we just want to know. Whatever is happening should not be a secret to the tenants.”

Wally Pascoe, who also lives in the senior apartments, worried that the seniors would soon have to start cutting back on other essentials in order to pay their utility bills. “Our income stays the same and all the expenses go up. We’re in a dead-end situation,” Pascoe said.

The directors and staff at the TDPUD reacted with concern to the issues raised by the seniors and promised an investigation into why their electricity bills had gotten so high.

General Manager Peter Holzmeister proposed sending out a TDPUD energy efficiency expert to the apartments to check for inefficiencies such as drafty windows and doors and malfunctioning heaters that may contribute to the high-energy usage.

He also agreed with many of the seniors present that checking the accuracy of the electric meters attached to the apartments would be a good idea.

Though generally happy with their reception at the board meeting, many of the seniors in attendance expressed their disapproval of the TDPUD’s recent electricity rate increases.

“I’ve been at the senior apartments for five years and each winter they seem to raise our rates,” said Lorena Avila.

Director Pat Sutton seemed to share the seniors’ concern over the rate increases which have taken place during the last four years.

According to TDPUD staff, an 11 percent electricity rate discount was discontinued in the year 2000, followed by an 8 percent rate increase in 2001 and another 5 percent rate increase approximately one month ago.

TDPUD board members promised to investigate the matter and address the issue again when more conclusive information can be passed along by the energy efficiency expert who will take a look at the apartments.

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