Now WG&L has the Mo' Money Blues - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Ga. power got its rate hike

Now WG&L has the Mo' Money Blues

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 June 16, 2006

Albany -- Add it to your list of rising bills! Albany Water, Gas and Light customers will soon pay more for utilities.

Friday, WG&L commissioners announced a rate increase for both water and power. The average homeowner's utility bill will go up at least five bucks and the cost to businesses is even higher.

 Talk about a real wash out.  "Naturally, it's going to hurt." Goo Goo Car Wash Manager Jim Paulk hates to hear that Albany Water, Gas and Light is upping water rates 10%.

But he doesn't know just how much the rate increase will cut into the new company's bottom line. "We've only been open a month and a half, so the owners haven't received a first bill yet."

When that water bill comes, the increase will be obvious to the water guzzling car wash. But for the average business, rates will go up just over $5.00 a month. The average residential customer will see the water bill go up around $1.50 a month.

But you can add to that cost, a 2% increase in power rates too.  Paulk said, "We've got an equipment room full or electrical stuff, big boxes that run all the blowers and vacuum cleaners out here. It takes a pretty good bit of electricity so that will effected too, I'm sure."

WG&L Commissioner Tommy Chatmon said, "Without that 2% increase, staff is projecting a $1.9 million loss in revenue." 

Chatmon says the electric rate increase will help keep the utility out of the red. But that's a hard pill to swallow, knowing that WG&L has more than $5 million in savings.

Mayor Willie Adams say that's still not enough money to run the utility in the case of an emergency.  "We should have enough in reserves to function for at least three months."

Adams the water increase will help pay down a loan for the water treatment plant.   Adams said, "As far as the water, that's a bond obligation. We don't have much control over that."

That doesn't lessen the blow back at the car wash where they, like most customers, are left wondering just how much next month's utility bill will suck from their budget.

Commissioners must vote on the proposed rate increase June 29th. If passed, bills will go up in July.

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