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Holley warns residents about sticker shock in their electric bills

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The punishing cold winter has produced many icicles, including these hanging on Oak Orchard Health in Albion. The prolonged cold also will be hitting the wallets of electric customers.

HOLLEY – The 792 Village of Holley electric customers should brace themselves for big increases in their bills, village officials said tonight during the monthly Village Board meeting.

Holley has a municipal electric department. It buys power from three sources and all are passing along big increases to the village, which then in turn will have to charge more to its customers.

“On March 1, when people get our bills they will be in for sticker shock,” said Village Trustee Skip Carpenter.

Holley buys most of its electricity from the New York Municipal Power Agency. It charged Holley $84,553 for electricity from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31. In January the bill jumped to $188,513 and is expected to rise this month, Carpenter said.

Holley also buys power from National Grid and the New York Power Authority, usually paying each of them about $20,000 each a month. But those rates are also going up, Carpenter said. He expects the village’s total bill to be about $300,000 for February, about 2.5 times a normal winter month.

“I just feel bad for the residents because it’s going to be hard,” said Village Clerk Jane Murray.

She said the Department of Social Services has been calling the village a few times most days, telling them some low-income village customers expect additional HEAP funding to help with their bills. The federal government on Jan. 30 approved $454 million more for the Home Energy Assistance Program, including $50.62 million more for New York.

The electricity increases come at a time when many village residents are already struggling to pay their bills. Carpenter said about $84,000 in past due bills is owed to the electric department with about $58,000 of that more than a year old.

The Village Board is considering hiring a collections agency that would receive 30 percent of the past due bills. The board is considering whether it should first focus on bills that are at least a year old, or if it should use the collections agency to also go after overdue bills that are two, three or four months overdue.

Mayor John Kenney said Holley needs to “do something” to recoup funds for the electric department.

Carpenter said he feels for residents because many of them simply don’t have the money to pay.