06 ThermostatPWC responded positively to dozens of its customers who showed up at a Fayetteville city council meeting to vent their frustrations over unexpectedly high power bills. Eastern North Carolina faced frigid temperatures in January as polar conditions descended upon the entire East Coast. Temperatures measured at Raleigh-Durham International Airport dipped below zero on New Year’s Eve and stayed well below freezing for eight days, a period matched only twice in recorded history, said Nick Petro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Raleigh.

The effect of frigid weather on individual utility bills can’t be predicted with precision because of many variables: billing periods vary; homes are different sizes; some homes are better insulated than others; thermostat settings vary; and some homes make use of space heaters while others do not.

Some PWC customers stated their bills had doubled, even tripled, mostly as the result of the unusually cold winter weather in late December and early January. Many were fearful that their electricity would be turned off because of their inability to pay their high bills.

PWC customer service manager Mark Brown assured them there would be no cutoffs or late charges for PWC customers who make payment arrangements. He urged customers to contact his office before their invoices are due so special arrangements can be set up. This was confirmed by PWC general manager David Trego, who told Up & Coming Weekly that in January alone PWC assisted nearly 17,000 of their customers with their unexpectedly high utility bills by granting due date extensions. He said that represents 20 percent of PWC’s customer base. After the city council meeting, Brown met with about 30 residents to answer questions and provide additional assistance.

Local businessman Clarence Briggs, founder of AIT – a web hosting and technology firm – had his own concerns with PWC. He claims the Hometown Utility has been overcharging his Hay Street office building for months, and he’s hired a utility auditing firm to check into it. Brown said PWC has also examined AIT’s records, and so far, has found errors totaling $130, which have already been credited to Brigg’s account. Briggs requested that the city use its oversight to hold PWC accountable. But, under state law, the city has no regulatory authority over the independently- operated utility.

Public Works electricity rates have not changed since May 2017. PWC encourages customers with questions or concerns to contact them immediately.

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