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Cornelius News

Deferred maintenance catching up to Electricities

April 12. By Dave Vieser. A 4.4 percent rate hike for ElectriCities customers set to begin July 1 may be delayed for six months. The Cornelius Town Board is split by a 3-2 margin in favor of whether the hike should be implemented as scheduled with the start of the town’s new fiscal year’s budget.

“Commissioner Tricia Sisson and I are recommending a delay of six months,” said Mayor Pro Tem Denis Bilodeau.

The reason: The COVID-19 pandemic. The town owns the local electric utility which serves about 40 percent of residents.

“We gave customers a little leeway due to COVID by not raising rates last year,” said Commissioner Jim Duke. “The rate is reasonable and absolutely needed.”

Deferred maintenance issues could threaten the entire system.

‘Borrowed time’

“They are looking at a single point of failure with no immediate backup available. If that happens, the whole East side could go dark. We are on borrowed time,” Commissioner Mike Miltich said.

The Town Board acts as ElectriCities’ local board of directors.

Commissioner Thurman Ross, who is a customer of Electricities, also favors the rate hike. “I would hate for something to go wrong with the system and we may be without power for a long period of time.”

As the board continues its deliberations over the new budget, a final decision is likely soon, but the current indecision puts Town Manager Andrew Grant in a difficult position.

Infrastructure improvements

“Additional infrastructure improvements are necessary to not only meet today’s needs, but future growth of the service area,” he said.

“The potential rate increase would fund these necessary improvements, so we are tentatively planning on bill inserts to customers in the May/June timeframe explaining the need for the rate increase,” Grant stated.

The remainder of the town is served by Energy United and/or Duke Energy, and their rates are determined independent of ElectriCities.