Metro Council set to vote on “Encouraging” NES to round-up your payment each month, without your permission

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NES isn’t getting enough people to ‘opt-in’ to round their bill up to the next whole dollar, to benefit their ‘Home Energy Uplift’ program, so they’re asking the Metro Council for their blessing to OPT-IN every single Nashville customer to the program, without asking their for permission, increasing the amount they pay each month. The council will vote on the resolution Wednesday night.

Metro City Council will vote on RS2018-1508 Wednesday to increase the amount every Nashvillian pays on their NES Bill. NES (Nashville Electric Service) has ‘Home Energy Uplift’ program, which provides whole-home energy improvements to limited-income families who own homes in Davidson County. Currently. Part of the funding of this program comes from a bill ’round-up’ program, where a customer’s electric bill is rounded up to the next whole dollar, and the difference is given to the Uplift program. Currently, customer have to choose to opt-in to this program by signing up on their bill, or calling NES. NES estimates that 8-10% of customers currently have opted-in to this program, and NES says that simply isn’t enough to maximize the program.

In response to the low number of people who chose to opt-in, NES has now come to the Metro Council to get their blessing to automatically OP-IN 100% of Nashville NES customers, without asking their permission. While the resolution is legally ‘non-binding’, it would give NES the nod it needs from the city to implement the plan. NES could then opt-in every customer, without their permission, and only if they noticed it on their bill and called or came into the office to have the charge removed, would they not be charged going forward. It is unclear if any amounts paid prior to it being noticed would be refunded to the customer.

The resolution anticipates making customers have to contact NES to opt-out of this voluntary charge on their bill would result in them converting about 65% of customer to the program, that either wouldn’t choose to opt-out, or just not notice the charge, a stark increase from the current 8-10% of customers that are enrolled in the program by choice. NES says with the average donation of fifty cents from all of the newly opted-in customers it could benefit up to 180 beneficiaries of the energy program, which has already weatherized 125 homes in Nashville.

The resolution was deferred the past two meeting, as council members discussed how it would look to citizen if they adopted the resolution. Similar programs for automatically enrolling utility customer in an optional round-up program to generate revenue for low-income weatherization grants, and for pairing those funds with matching dollars from the Tennessee Valley Authority exist in both Knoxville and Memphis.

Sponsors of the bill are: Brenda Haywood, Freddie O’Connell, Mina Johnson, Larry Hagar, Burkley Allen, & Colby Sledge. If you’d like to contact your council member about this or any other issue, you can do so here, or you can email them all at CouncilMembers@nashville.gov.

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