ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Irregular RG&E bills were once again the focus of a public meeting, this time in Rochester Thursday night, where a group gathered to propose an alternative.

After hearing the all-too-familiar stories from residents hit hard by these bills, an idea was put forward to turn RG&E into a public utility, as opposed to a private one. The discussion comes as RG&E is asking state regulators for a nearly 20 percent rate hike.

Organizers with Metro Justice hosted the Town Hall with City Council Vice President Mary Lupien. They say a community-owned utility would be more affordable in the long run.

“I think Rochester residents are overdue to have a utility that they actually have a say in…and if Fairport electric can do it, if Spencerport electric can do it, if Churchville can have a public utility, then Rochester residents and the rest of Monroe County should have one too,” said Mohini Sharma with Metro Justice.

Sharma adds they will first need an implementation study to give them the tools needed to operate a public utility that holds the values they’re seeking.

They’re expecting to have a referendum on the ballot by the 2024 election.