Patricia Harris called in from Etowah to give her 3 cents about hidden charges on her utility bills. 

Well, Patricia, I called Etowah Utilities, and spoke with their general manager, Harold Masengil. He said there is a basic charge that helps to offset the infrastructure of having the utilities run to each house as well as reading the meters. Those basic charges are listed on the Etowah Utilities website: $20.17 for electric, $7.96 for water, and $13.59 for sewer. That’s about $41 right out of the gate before you use any of those services.

On the surface, I get your frustration. A comparison might be if a grocery store charged you for the use of the cash register when it came time for you to pay for your food.  But here is where the comparison falls short. When you check out at a grocery store, you are paying for the cash register, and the employees, and the store's utilities, and anything else that represents a cost to the store. All of that is baked into determining the cost of the food you buy.  And you don’t expect all of that to be itemized when you get your receipt. You just expect to see the cost of the food, the tax, the savings, and the amount you owe.

It’s pretty much the same with your utilities. Here is a look at my EPB bill from June. Notice all I am given is the total: $163.27. I spoke with John Pless with EPB, and he steered me to a “Calculate Your Bill” section on the EPB website, and you will notice that a couple of other things are also on there.  A flat monthly charge of $9.36, and a  “fuel cost adjustment”. Pless says the $9.36 is the cost to maintain service to a residence, and the “fuel cost adjustment” is dependent on what  TVA pays for fuel, and can cause your bill to vary buy a couple of dollars.

My 3 Cents?  That we can have lights, cold food, comfortable air, clean clothes, electric outlets for power all available for $100-$200 is pretty much a miracle, and I truly don’t have a problem with paying $9.36 or even $20 for the hookup, or to have someone come out and read the meter (which EPB doesn’t do.  It’s all computerized).

Now all utilities are different, and some may have a breakdown on the bill, but most will have a breakdown on their website, and if they don’t you can always give them a call.  As long as the info is available somewhere, I’m okay. 

And that’s my 3 Cents.  Hey. if you have a rant or something positive you want to rave about I want to know!  Give me a call at 423-643-9722 and give me your 3 Cents.