I am hoping this email may open the eyes of people that take their power and water for granted, as well as possibly getting rid of some of the unthinking or uncaring rules and attitudes of Municipal Light and Water.

It will be one day short of 3 weeks since my electrical, water and trash service have been denied me.

I am a divorced 52-year-old woman who works as a professional seamstress. I also buy and sell items on Facebook and do sewing on the side to help make ends meet.

In February 2017 I entered into a contract to buy and restore a house built in 1895.

From the first time I saw it, I fell in love with its traditional lines, the wrap-around porch and gorgeous wood trim inside the house. This beautiful old gem had been neglected and uninhabited for more than 20 years.

Fortunately, the previous owner had seen to replacing the roof, repairing broken windows and keeping it locked to prevent vandals from creating any more damage than time itself was doing.

Those who cannot see the beauty in an old house and envision it restored collectively think I am crazy and are in disbelief that I have taken on such a large project and am doing it 95% on my own. However, I cannot discount my dear friends who have both sweated and cussed in frustration alongside me in this major undertaking and helped with things I knew nothing about how to do.

What this comes down to is my electric/water bill went from $100 a month to more than $300 when the cold weather hit. Every single month, I made a payment of at least $150, and every month I apologized for being unable to pay the full amount.

I was told by the ladies up front that “it was okay, at least I was making a payment.” Because I was unable to pay the total due every month I had a running overdue balance making it appear that every payment I made was late, when in actuality, only the part I had been unable to pay was late.

I asked repeatedly to be put on the budget billing program, but I was not eligible until I had lived there a year, and only then if I had a zero balance.

I knew my electricity use would go down substantially once the warmer temperatures returned, thus making it possible for me to get my electric/water bill caught up.

I do not use A/C so my electric goes down substantially.

The first winter in an old house, any house really, you learn where the drafts come through and take care of those. All fall and most of the winter was spent putting plastic on all windows, caulking and sealing, making extra heavy duty curtains, shutting off unused rooms, putting on extra layers, and not just cranking up the heat, as the temperatures dropped.

This summer, I will be putting in a wood stove to help offset the cost of electricity next winter.

I have cut every corner, some of them twice, to lower my overall costs of living and now find myself not only without power but it costing me twice as much to survive. I have no refrigerator only a cooler, so I am very limited on what I can keep cold and on a very limited time. Now I have the added expense of buying ice every few days. I am very limited on what I can cook because of no stove. So that leaves me eating suppers out.

I have discovered where I can get a meal for $3 and that’s what I do.

I have to take my clothes the laundromat to wash and dry them. If the weather isn’t freezing, I hang clothes on the line to dry. To bathe, I heat a pot of water on my grill. It makes me feel very fortunate that I had decided to wear short hair many years ago.

And finally there is the issue of water. I did have the forethought to fill lots and lots of five-gallon buckets etc. before they turned off my water and I have been able to take advantage of the rain water as well as melting snow, but that is becoming depleted.

I have guaranteed help of over $400  from several local charities to help pay my bill as well as a co-signer to alleviate the need for a $640 deposit to allow me to have power again.

I had to reapply for an account but I just received a notice that they are going to pull my water meter.

Nowhere have I denied that I owe the money to the power company. All I have asked for is a bit of human compassion and understanding from municipal light and water.

I have no other option but to stay in my home with the cost of a motel way out of my budget, not to mention I would rather pay that money to the light and water company.  Fortunately, my children are grown and off on their own, but the ones that so many don’t count as being affected are my three dogs, two of which are and have been service dogs that have brought much joy to so many at the nursing home and senior day program I worked at. At night, they sleep under the covers with me to try and stay warm and during the day, they curl up tight in attempt to keep warm while I pile on the layers and see my breath while I try and stay strong.

In short, how many people realize that Municipal Light and Water, one company, has such total control over the basic necessities of life?

Currently I owe $700. I have made $150-200 payments every month and the only reason it shows late on my bill is because of carryover from the month before.

I was doing fine until my bill went up to over $300 a month. I tried to reason with them to allow me to make up the difference when my electric went back down to $100 a month but they refused.

 

Sara L. Shearer, North Platte