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EPB to rethink new rate structure

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GLASGOW — Residents hoping to stop the Glasgow Electric Plant Board’s new rate structure may get their wish in coming months.
A host of Glasgow residents, many of them standing against the wall because of lack of seating, expressed their displeasure with the new rate structure at Monday's city council meeting. The residents also crowded into the meeting to see what would come of an ordinance to remove members of the EPB board of directors from office.
Ultimately, the ordinance to remove the board members was tabled because earlier in the day, the board directed EPB Superintendent Billy Ray to come up with a new rate structure by the next board meeting in September.
City council member Wendell Honeycutt, who had the proposal to remove the EPB directors from office put on the council’s agenda, said Ray’s primary duty now will be to formulate a rate structure based solely on an hourly rate and a customer charge.
“We want a government board that responds to the needs of the people,” he said. “This afternoon that board did do that.”
The new rate structure, which charges customers roughly $11 per kilowatt hour during the hour of each month where demand is the highest, has been controversial. Many critics say it disproportionately affects the elderly and the disabled and forces people to rearrange their lives around predicted peak periods, which tend to come several times a month and last the greater part of an afternoon.
Prior to City Attorney Rich Alexander’s reading of the ordinance, several speakers addressed the council.
Missy Staples, a founding member of Glasgow Citizens, was first.
"While everyone wants to conserve energy, Mr. Ray failed to consider this rate structure would hurt," she said.
Many Glasgow families have struggled to pay their electric bills and many seniors can't afford to stay in the heat because of health concerns but also can't afford to pay higher electric bills, Staples said.
She demanded that Mayor Dick Doty's next appointment to the EPB board, and every subsequent appointee, should be against the new rate structure.
Abby Medford, whose husband works for the EPB, took to the podium after Staples and defended the EPB's new rate structure and the utility's attempts to warn customers of when it expects the peak demand period to be.
"We're fortunate here in Glasgow that the EPB has the technology and the infrastructure to be able to see when a system is using the most power to see when it's going to cost our community more and give us the information that we need so that we can make the most efficient decisions about our usage," she said.
Council member Jake Dickinson made a motion to approve Honeycutt's ordinance and council member Gary Oliver seconded it. Honeycutt then suggested tabling the motion, explaining that he thinks it would be better to let the EPB suggest a new rate structure.
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