MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It seems like everything is going up these days. The temperature, gas, food and, coming soon, possibly your power bill. Rising coal and natural gas prices could force Alabama Power to increase rates but right now the company says it's premature to talk about it. But, Dixie Electric will hike its rates next week, and, that's bad news for customers already struggling to make ends meet.
For example, Constance Warren has a hard time breathing even when she walks because she's disabled. She says she has chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. That's why she's worried. "I'm scared. I don't want to be here without electricity. I have a hard time with electricity but without it I won't breathe at all."
She and her husband have received the dreaded cut-off notice. They owed $467.00 because they're two months behind in their electricity payments. Even a partial payment on the bill didn't help much."I have had to be late several times but I got it and paid it and I'd do that way now if they'd give me the time to get up the money," she says.
Her husband has other problems. "I got laid off from painting when the housing market dropped so much." They're behind because her husband is out of work, and with her being disabled, James Warren says he's picking up odd jobs wherever he can. "A partial payment wasn't good enough. They either had to have all the money or they were going to shut us off-no matter her lung condition. I've screamed. I've cried. I've begged the man above and that's all I know to do is to keep praying and keep trying to move forward."
Dixie Electric, however, says it's in a bind too."We can't discuss the specifics of it." But, Terri Faulkner, a spokesperson for the power company did say it has expenses too and needs the money from customers to make its ends meet. "I understand that people run into circumstances like that but there's a lot of people that are struggling and we have guidelines and policies that we have to follow and we have to apply those to all accounts but we do work with people within those guidelines."
Dixie Electric did suggest for the Warrens to contact some of the agencies that help people pay their power bills but James Warren said when he contacted Project Share it said it's at capacity right now. Their other hope is to call 2-1-1.