Albany man concerned over high utility bills

Albany man concerned over high utility bills
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 4:54 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 7:45 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Utilities are generally higher for everyone during the warmer months because AC units are working overtime.

But one Albany man is claiming that he’s being overcharged and unheard by the city.

Desmond Searcy said he would like to see Albany provide more electric companies to choose from, as well as better overall customer service.

Searcy said it all started about a year and a half ago when the city placed a pole in his backyard and an electric transformer, which he says connects to seven other houses in his neighborhood.

The transformer malfunctioned and exploded, and Searcy said the city said they would come and fix it, but never did.

“I pay them my money. And they quickly take the money for our payments and things like that. But when it’s things that they’re responsible for to make things bearable and more convenient for us as citizens and customers, then they drag their feet about it,” Searcy said.

Desmond Searcy has lived in Albany since 2017.
Desmond Searcy has lived in Albany since 2017.(WALB)

Since the pandemic, Searcy said his utility bill has increased from around $200 a month to $500 a month.

His most recent bill was nearly $1,300, with almost $900 past due. He said the city turned off his electricity until he could pay the past due amount.

He thinks Albany residents need more options.

“I just don’t understand how smaller cities can have two or three different companies that their residents can choose from. And here in Albany, because of the monopolization of our utility services, we’re stuck with Albany water, lights and gas and that’s it. And I don’t think that’s fair,” Searcy said.

In response to Searcy’s frustrations, Albany Utility Board Member Brenda Battle said the rates have not changed.

“The City of Albany owns the utility company. So that’s quite different than quite a few cities,” Battle said. “Deregulation hasn’t occurred here. Whether that will be an option in the future, I don’t know. But that’s a great question for me to take back to the board to have that addressed in our next meeting.”

Searcy said he has even had to sell his former food truck business in order to keep up with the utility costs. And that he knows many people with similar issues. He adds that his home is energy efficient too.

WALB News 10 reached out to Albany Utilities but have not heard back yet.