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HomeNewsArchivesPSC LOWERS COMING INCREASE IN ELECTRIC BILLS

PSC LOWERS COMING INCREASE IN ELECTRIC BILLS

Water and Power Authority customers will see increases in their electric bills April 1, but the Public Services Commission has softened the blow a bit by restricting the percentage they'll go up for now.
The PSC agreed to let the utility raise rates by 17 percent for residential customers instead of the 23 percent that WAPA had projected, and by 14 percent for commercial customers and 19 percent for large-scale users. The increases will extend over nine months and split the increased cost of oil between WAPA and its consumers.
The average residential electric bill will go up $10.37 a month for residential customers, $28.08 for commercial users and $523.21 for large power users.
PSC investigative consultant Anthony Zarillo had advised the commission against the $14 average monthly household increase WAPA cited in a press release Friday.
Zarillo, in his report on the utility's "levelized energy adjustment," a surcharge linked to world market fuel costs that the PSC first permitted WAPA to add onto bills in 1981, warned against action that could produce "rate shock" among consumers.
The surcharge rate is adjusted every six months. With oil prices soaring, WAPA representatives said, it is sure to go up again in July. But they said that between now and then they will seek to prepare a recovery plan.
Each revision of the surcharge is supposed to balance projected oil costs for the six months to come with any over- or undercharging versus actual fuel costs for the previous six months.
Because of cost increases that have not been passed on to customers in the last year, WAPA authorities said, the utility's under-collecting will reach almost $12 million by the end of March. The surcharge adjustment approved by the PSC last October was based on an oil cost projection of $21.75 per barrel. The price is now about $30 a barrel.
Glenn Rothgeb, WAPA assistant executive director, acknowledged he had misjudged the price climb. He said he doesn't expect oil prices to go down any time in the near future, either. Even with the coming bill increases, he said, WAPA is "just treading water."
WAPA has been losing about $1 million a month since January and will probably need to borrow money to keep going, WAPA chief financial officer Terry Drake said.
Zarillo said consumers should not expect any relief until fall at the earliest, even if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increases the oil supply.
Both WAPA officials and PSC members expressed concern about how the increase will affect those on fixed incomes and small businesses. Commission member Desmond Maynard said, "I shudder to think what kind of reaction we're going to get in the community."
The choices, Zarillo said, are "either pay now, or pay later."

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Water and Power Authority customers will see increases in their electric bills April 1, but the Public Services Commission has softened the blow a bit by restricting the percentage they'll go up for now.
The PSC agreed to let the utility raise rates by 17 percent for residential customers instead of the 23 percent that WAPA had projected, and by 14 percent for commercial customers and 19 percent for large-scale users. The increases will extend over nine months and split the increased cost of oil between WAPA and its consumers.
The average residential electric bill will go up $10.37 a month for residential customers, $28.08 for commercial users and $523.21 for large power users.
PSC investigative consultant Anthony Zarillo had advised the commission against the $14 average monthly household increase WAPA cited in a press release Friday.
Zarillo, in his report on the utility's "levelized energy adjustment," a surcharge linked to world market fuel costs that the PSC first permitted WAPA to add onto bills in 1981, warned against action that could produce "rate shock" among consumers.
The surcharge rate is adjusted every six months. With oil prices soaring, WAPA representatives said, it is sure to go up again in July. But they said that between now and then they will seek to prepare a recovery plan.
Each revision of the surcharge is supposed to balance projected oil costs for the six months to come with any over- or undercharging versus actual fuel costs for the previous six months.
Because of cost increases that have not been passed on to customers in the last year, WAPA authorities said, the utility's under-collecting will reach almost $12 million by the end of March. The surcharge adjustment approved by the PSC last October was based on an oil cost projection of $21.75 per barrel. The price is now about $30 a barrel.
Glenn Rothgeb, WAPA assistant executive director, acknowledged he had misjudged the price climb. He said he doesn't expect oil prices to go down any time in the near future, either. Even with the coming bill increases, he said, WAPA is "just treading water."
WAPA has been losing about $1 million a month since January and will probably need to borrow money to keep going, WAPA chief financial officer Terry Drake said.
Zarillo said consumers should not expect any relief until fall at the earliest, even if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increases the oil supply.
Both WAPA officials and PSC members expressed concern about how the increase will affect those on fixed incomes and small businesses. Commission member Desmond Maynard said, "I shudder to think what kind of reaction we're going to get in the community."
The choices, Zarillo said, are "either pay now, or pay later."