New Pilot Program Aimed at Reducing Electric Costs

Utility bills are on the rise. Tallahassee customers can expect increases of about ten dollars starting next month. City commissioners approved a base rate increase for electric, water and sewer this week, the hike needed to help maintain the utility system.

The city says relief isn't on the way anytime soon, but it’s hoping a new program will help customers cut the costs.

Erma Williams says she can't handle another increase in her utility bill.

Erma says, "Oh, they're trying to kill us. They just killed us and put us in the ground. How are you going to take all the pennies you make to pay a light bill?"

She's still not sure how she'll pay her $644 utility bill. Her friend Savannah Sanders says if the city can't lower the costs, something else needs to be done to help.

Savannah says, “They need them here bad, more programs to help people."

Reese Goad with Tallahassee Utilities says the city is taking another look at its current programs that help cut utility costs, and in the next three weeks it will launch a new program, installing 1,000 programmable thermostats to help customers control electric costs.

Reese Goad, Tallahassee Utilities Accounting Administrator, says, "About 50 percent of the electricity you use is heating and cooling, so to the extent you can reduce that. that's a big number, you can actually reduce your bill."

Goad says a programmable thermostat can save as much as 33 percent in electric costs. Hundreds have already signed up to take part in the pilot program.

Even if you can't take part, Goad says a programmable thermostat may still be the way to go, eventually paying for itself.

If you're a Tallahassee Utilities customer and want to take part in the thermostat pilot program, you can call 891-4YOU. There is a $50 fee which can be paid over a 10-month period.