Franklin group plans to protest after getting unusually high electric bills

Posted at 8:05 PM, Mar 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-22 23:18:21-04

Franklin, Va. - One group of angry residents in Franklin is planning to protest after they received some outrageously expensive electric bills. One woman told NewsChannel 3 her bill was higher than her rent!

“I have nothing left after I pay the electric bill, nothing.”

Marsha Barnes says that's because her last two monthly statements for electricity totaled more than $1,000.

City records show she racked up $660 in just the last month alone for a home on Hill Street in Franklin.

“My electric bill is always higher than my rent,” said Barnes.

The disabled single grandmother says the City of Franklin always blames it on her electric heating costs in the cold winters.

Sabrina Wellington, though, doesn't have electric heat; she has gas heating.

Still, her electric bill last month in a small home on Walnut Street was more than $200.

“I did insulation to my house, had weatherization done, so I don't see why my bill is ranging that amount,” said Wellington.

These women are just two of dozens who packed the Franklin Sportsman Club Thursday night; they are part of a group called “Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills.”

“It’s gotten to the extreme that people can’t be in their normal standard of living,” said Wellington.

NewsChannel 3 went to City Hall to speak with City Manager Randy Martin, and we asked him why it is so expensive to have electricity in Franklin?

“Well it isn’t on average,” said Martin.

We asked him about Mrs. Barnes' case. We wanted to know if someone’s electric bill should be more than their rent.

I don’t know what to say to that because I don’t know what they are paying,” said Martin. “That’s not the average bill.”

When it came to Mrs. Wellington's case, we wondered why her electric bill is going up in the winter when she has gas heat.

“Hers is an exception; most of our customers have electric heat,” said Martin.

The city manager says in every single case that's come across his desk to investigate, he has found no wrong doing by the City of Franklin, either in their meter technology or their employees’ actions.

As for Wellington or Barnes, he had no answers to explain those two unusually high bills saying that he needed to look further into their cases.

The “Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills” group plans on protesting in front of City Hall before next week’s City Council meeting.