Town of Mosses continues electric cost discussion

Published 11:59 pm Monday, March 21, 2011

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

High electric bills faced by Mosses residents and the status of the sewer lagoon project were topics addressed by Mosses Mayor Walter S. Hill, Tuesday night.

Hill said he met with a legal team regarding citizens impacted by high power bills from Pioneer Electric Cooperative and that an announcement of where that is headed would be made in the coming week.

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“This is not about money but principle,” said Hill in connection with the decision faced by citizens to purchase medicine or groceries when faced with paying a power bill as high as $1,200.

Hill said he had not seen “a change in the demeanor” of the cooperative “in terms of billing practices.”

Steve Harmon, executive vice-present and general manager of Pioneer Electric Cooperative, said he has met with the mayor and several other county officials and has made an attempt to explain Pioneer Electric’s situation as a power cooperative.

He said the number of meters per mile of line is a primary reason the rates are a little higher than other companies in the state.

He said the cooperative made adjustments in both collection practices and payment polices to give customers more time.

“So we certainly have made an effort to reach out… unfortunately that is perceived as not enough,” he said.

“That disappoints me…,” Harmon said, “if they are seeking legal recourse.”

When asked about the upcoming announcement, Hill said the announcement would attempt to address the efforts undertaken by the mayor of Mosses, Lowndes County Commission Chairman Charlie King Jr., Commissioner Robert Harris and Commission Vice-Chairman Marzett Thomas with regard to several concerns that have been addressed to the Pioneer Electric board in one meeting and Harmon in three consecutive meetings. “We will be announcing what we have been directed to do in an effort to further out efforts.”

He said the announcement is not a step toward litigation, but “We do not rule out litigation if that is the way we have to go.”

Hill reported that the Mosses Sewer Lagoon Improvement project has been closed out and is ready for Phase Two to tie residents in to water and sewer.

Hill said the $500,000 sewer lagoon project came in $70,000 over and the town will work out the details with the Mosses Water Authority, which agreed to pay the difference.

A meeting is planned for Tuesday, he said, with the mayor of Gordonville and the chairman of the water authority regarding Phase Two. He stated that will be over a $1 million project.

Hill said it would eliminate the dependency of residents on septic systems.

Hill said when small towns are “suffering with the same Problems” it is “better to come together.” He said Phase Two would be a partnership between government entities.