Mid-state residents hit with high energy bills; MTEMC explains

(Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s hard to believe we’re just now getting some relief from freezing temperatures, but the reality is setting in for many mid-state electric customers.

Some did a double take when they opened their December electric bill.

One customer on a fixed income said her bill has never been over $500 in the coldest of winters, but she just got one for $800.

“I just don’t have it. It will be the first time in 30 years that I can’t pay my electric bill,” Murfreesboro Electric Department customer Bonnie Rose said.

(Photo: WKRN)

“During the winter time, my bill usually runs somewhere $200 to $250, and this month’s bill was $515,” Rose explained.

She told News 2 she did all the right things to conserve energy power, but her bill was still outrageous.

“Definitely watching it, being very careful, being very conservative, turning it down during the day and just up in the evening to warm things up and down when you sleep,” she said.

MORE: What can you do to save money on your electric bill during winter?

Rose is not alone. Dozens of Murfreesboro Electric, Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, and NES customers reached out to News 2 as well.

Some claim their electric bill doubled. Some even tripled.

News 2 looked deeper into the issue and spoke with a representative from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, who explained why electric bills are skyrocketing.

In December, there were at least 16 days where the temperature was at or below freezing, and more usage of the heat means higher bills.

“In December and January, we had some really cold days, and in January we had some extended periods of cold. When that happens, heating units [and] HVAC units tend to run almost non-stop,” said Josh Clendenen, Communication Coordinator with MTEMC.

Officials said MTEMC is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative, and they only charge for the power you use.

“We are not charging more,” Clendenen explained. “It’s not like some investor-owned utilities that have those type of rate structures. We are owned by our members, and our rates are set, and they do change monthly, but that’s from TVA.”

(Photo: WKRN)

The cooperative only gets a small amount of every dollar it takes in.

“So for every dollar that we bring in, 0.82 of that dollar goes to TVA; 0.18 of each dollar is actually used to operate the cooperative,” Clendenen said.

He added, “Our rates are about 20 percent lower than the national average and some of the lowest in the state.”

Clendenen said when customers do get that sticker shock from a high bill, the best thing you can do is call MTEMC.

“That’s the greatest thing. We want to work with you if we can,” he told News 2.

MTEMC members have trouble paying their bills, there is also help available, if you qualify, through Community Helpers of Rutherford County. Click here to read more about the group.

NES in Nashville also offers winter energy-saving tips. Click here to check them out.