INEQUITY: Renters, homeowners, small business pay shockingly unfair portion of CoMo power costs, Weitkemper shows
- Written by Heart Beat staff
A diabolical cost shifting plan
COLUMBIA, Mo 1/12/15 (Beat Byte) -- Utility billing fairness advocate Bill Weitkemper has delivered more evidence Columbia's city-owned utility system is politically-rigged to favor Big Business and Big Development.
A September increase in the base charge for electricity shifted $2.1 million from large businesses and industrial customers onto residential customers and small businesses, Weitkemper has discovered.
He sent a chart and detailed calculations to the Columbia City Council and senior city administrators, who have so far ignored his findings.
As the chart shows, Council members increased the base charge everyone pays, no matter how much power they use, by 73% -- from $8.45/month to $14.60/month.
The resulting shift is a whopper. Before the base charge hike, the city's 1,080 big business customers paid $50.9 million annually for power. After the base charge hike, they now pay $48.7 million.
The city's 46,500 residential and small business customers, meanwhile, paid $54.1 million annually for power before the hike; they now pay $56.3 million.
The chart also accounts for actual power usage. Unlike the base charge, that part of the bill -- the usage charge -- varies each month, especially with changing weather conditions.
The cost-shifting plan is diabolically crafty. There are only a handful of large customers, so they get a big break, while the increase for thousands of small customers is small, so no one complains.
Large customers each now pay roughly $1993 less, while small customers each pay $46 more.
Weitkemper -- a retired City of Columbia public works supervisor -- won the Ed Robb Public Service Award for his tireless efforts to correct the billing system.
About his latest findings, "I think they reflect fairly accurately that the small guys are continuing to be held down by the city and screwed by the big guys," he said.
Weitkemper Electric Bill Comparison Chart