Oct. 28, 2004 When your Nov. 1 electric and water bills arrive, look for yet another increase in the rate thanks to an upward adjustment in the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause, commonly called the LEAC.
This is the third month in a row that bills have increased.
The Nov. 1 rate increase is due to the rising cost of fuel. Thanks to an Aug. 10 decision by the Public Services Commission, the V.I. Water and Power Authority is now allowed to pass the fuel increase cost on to its customers in the next bill if it goes up $1.75 a barrel more than predicted. Previously, the LEAC could only be adjusted every six months.
WAPA spokeswoman Cassandra Dunn said that the utility paid $45.99 a barrel for oil from HOVENSA. It expected to pay $43.98, a difference of $2.01. Since this difference was more than $1.75, WAPA could adjust the LEAC.
Residential electric customers will get a 4.1 percent increase. This comes out to an average $4.54 per month increase to $114.18. This figure is based on an average usage of 500 kilowatt hours per month.
Commercial rates are going up 3.7 percent, but large power users will be hit with a 4.5 percent increase. For example, commercial customers who use 1,200 kilowatt hours per month will see their bills go up by $10.89 to $308.
Water customers who use the average of 2,400 gallons a month will get a 14 cents per month increase.
"We are asking our customers to conserve," Dunn said.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are one way to start. "I've seen a 35 percent savings with compact fluorescents," V.I. Energy Office director Bevin Smith said.
If you don't believe him, stop by WAPA's St. Croix office. He and Dunn both said there's a display that shows just how much faster the electric meter turns with incandescent bulbs compared to compact fluorescents.
Compact fluorescents, once an expensive novelty, have come way down in price and are available almost everywhere that sells light bulbs. "They last five to seven years," Smith said.
The Energy Office has a rebate program in the works that gives you $5 off the price of three compact fluorescent bulbs that carry the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star rating. The Energy Star rating ensures they'll have a long life.
Smith said he expects the rebate program to come online by the middle of November. It will also include a rebate of $5 per kilowatt for solar panels up to a maximum of $5,000 for a solar system. The program also includes 20 percent off wind turbines.
Smith had a few other tips for saving energy. He said insulate hot water pipes and tanks. He said there's some evidence that insulating the tanks works better than using a timer.
He said that keep your refrigerator's condenser coils clean by vacuuming regularly. And check the seals on the door to make sure they fit tight.
"Just simple things like that," Smith said.
WAPA also suggested that residents repair leaky faucets. Additionally, the utility suggested not planting trees below or near power lines because vegetation interferes with clean power transmission.
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