Paula Wood’s story is like that of many retirees. Though married once, she is now single and supporting herself on social security alone. And, she has to make sacrifices to make ends meet.
“I like living in a trailer. It’s a practical way of living for me. It’s the right amount of space for a single person and it’s easy to keep up,” she said. What Wood found surprising was the cost to heat and cool her mobile home, and the rate at which her electric bill has increased.
Wood said electricity is among her highest expenses each month.
“I paid about $50 a month I moved in,” she said. In recent years, her Alabama Power bill has been as much as $300 a month. “This happened over a six-year period. Now I’m on the budget plan and pay $150 a month. I got to where I really couldn’t pay the power after it went up to $300.”
Like other Alabamians struggling to pay electric bills, Wood said she has made sacrifices and cut her expenses as much as possible.
“If you were to have Social Security, and your Social Security was $700, and electricity takes $150 of that, you have less than $600 to live on for a whole month,” Wood said.
“I keep my monthly expenses very slim. There’s food and looking after the car, and the water bill isn’t bad. I got rid of the cats, and I really don’t eat three meals a day,” she said.
“I used to be a firm believer in tithing,” she said. “If you gave 10 percent, you still had 90 cents left over from every dollar. Now, I can’t do it.”
Wood said she has cut her budget in every way possible, “because you have to have power. I also have bronchial asthma, so I have to have power because I can’t handle the heat. I have to be able to use power to be able to maintain breathing.
“If I didn’t have to eat and I didn’t have to breathe, I’d be alright.”
The Alabama Public Service Commission is currently holding meetings on whether to lower the amount of profit, called return on equity, Alabama Power is allowed to make. AARP is calling for this rate to be lowered, and therefore lowering power bills.
If you would like to tell the PSC how your high Alabama Power bill affects your family’s budget, take this short survey. AARP Alabama will compile the answers from the survey and forward them to the PSC.