City officials say they will act Wednesday on proposals for electrical usage rate revisions affecting both residential and business users.
According to Power Superintendent Ronnie Crump, proposed revisions include a flat rate charge of 7.6 cents per kilowatt hour of power used for residents. A demand charge (for capacity on city generators used) of 7.75 cents for all kilowatts over five will be charged to businesses as well as charges of 9.4 cents per kilowatt hour used up to 1,000, 4.7 cents for each kilowatt hour used up to 14,000 and 2.6 cents for each subsequent kilowatt hour used.A modest home with one to three people uses 650 kw monthly. Those using that much or less will see a small decrease in monthly bills if the new rate structure passes - which means widows and small families will pay less and larger homes with large families will pay more, Crump said.
"For example, those paying $100 or more monthly will likely see an increase of about 6 percent in their bills."
City officials have held public hearings during December and January and will take action during the City Council meeting scheduled Wednesday, Jan. 23. The current rates, which haven't changed for 20 years, decline as usage increases, which is unfair, Crump said. "The more you used, the cheaper it got. It's time to make our rate structure reflect the economic realities of the 1990s."
Most businesses will see increases, depending on their size, Crump said. Large-demand users (more than 30 kw of capacitance of city generators) will see an increase of 4.35 percent in their monthly bills, while smaller users (fewer than 30 kw of capacitance) will see a .79 percent increase.
The current commercial rates have been so complicated that explaining them to prospective businesses has been a problem, he said. Additionally, the current rates penalized small users and discouraged large users from conserving.
"In today's energy markets, fairness dictates that everyone pays the same rate for the power they use," Crump said. "We want our customers to use whatever electricity they need, but to use it efficiently."
However, the rate revisions will not be made for revenue enhancement, city officials say. "The city's electrical rate system needs simplification, but the restructuring must be as close to revenue-neutral as possible," Councilman Brent York said. "I'm really comfortable with what we've come up in that regard."
In addition, the city has devised an all-electric residential rate, for those residents who use electricity for all their utility needs. Crump said those rates will be modified for seasonal usage patterns, such as a price break (7.6 cents for each of the first 800 kilowatt hours used, but 5.7 cents for each subsequent kilowatt hour used thereafter) for those using electrical heat during the winter. During the summer, those residents will be charged the same base rate as other residential users.
In addition, the city will be taking action on a proposed new shutoff policy for delinquent accounts. Crump said the current city ordinance calls for shutoff if no arrears have been made by 60 days.
"We've been waiting a little longer than that before terminating service, but no longer. However, under the new system, bills will be due at the end of the month rather than the 20th, so it balances out a little."