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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Get Your Facts Here

Even though the idea of keeping in contact with our customers using this format instead of the old, once-a-month paper bill insert format is still quite new, it is already becoming clear that we need to talk more often. Heck, we need a couple of conversations every month just to help correct the information you might accidently acquire from the Glasgow Daily Times reports on our Board meetings because it is often incorrect. The story entitled “EPB increases rates” in the December 28 edition of the paper is certainly one of those instances.

While I will be the first to admit that a lot of the information transmitted in our Board meetings is complicated and heavy with numbers and decimal points that is really no excuse for making the kind of whopping mistakes in this article. The simple facts are that we need a small (2%) increase in our net electric power revenue to amortize the cost of building a new energy delivery point for our city. We are implementing that increase on January 1. At the same time, TVA is passing along a similarly small rate decrease (as part of their quarterly fuel cost adjustment) and their decrease combined with our increase will result in a small net decrease in kWh charges for all of our customers. Also, at the same time, we are adjusting the “customer charge” portion of our billing for most rate classes. The customer charge is the portion of the bill that assures us some revenue from a meter that is just sitting there for a month and passing no energy. The philosophy here is that we still have expenses in reading the meter, maintaining the plant serving the meter, sending out billing, etc., even if the meter is using no energy. So, to make sure that everyone pays their fair share, we have this charge, which everyone pays every month, before they even start using any energy.

The newspaper got this all confused. At your home you pay $8.29 per month now for that customer charge and on January 1 that goes up to $10.00. If you operate a small business, you already pay $10 per month for the customer charge (NOT $10 per kWh!) and we are not changing that. Larger businesses will see this charge increase from $25 per month to $45 per month and still larger businesses will see an increase from $25 per month to $120 per month. But none of those businesses will be paying $25, $45, or $120 per kWh! How on earth such figures as the ones in the newspaper could get by any copy editor is beyond by ability to comprehend. A kWh generally costs about seven cents in Glasgow. If anyone paid $10 or $25 per kWh as the newspaper indicates, they would be seeing monthly bills at their home and small businesses in the $25,000 per month range! I’m quite sure this would greatly disappoint our customers.

So, if you read this story and had chest pains, please take an aspirin and relax. Your kWh charge is actually going down a small amount on January 1. Your customer charge, for most of you, is going up a little. That is all there is to it.