Albany power bills may rise - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany power bills may rise

January 25, 2007

Albany -- WG&L's budget shortfall has increased from two and a half to four million dollars, and they're looking for more ways to cut costs to avoid a rate hike.  

Last June WG&L customers saw their rates go up two percent. Mayor Willie Adams said he doesn't want that to happen again, and urged board members to look for alternatives.

WG&L's Director of Fiscal Affairs gave board members a price comparison list with a proposed increase, and said if they do have to implement an increase, their prices will still be cheaper than the competition.

WG&L along with 49 other cities buy cheaper energy through the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. MEAG sells the surplus energy that isn't used, but lately the price hasn't been great.  

"The price that you get for that electricity has decreased quite a bit over the past year, a lot of that is caused by the price of natural gas," says WG&L Director of Fiscal Affairs John Vansant. 

Low natural gas prices have amounted to a $4 million budget shortfall. To make up half of that money, WG&L's director of finance proposed a five dollar increase for those who use a thousand kilowatts, a $7.00 increase for those using 1,500 kilowatts, and a $10.00 increase for those using more than 2,000 kilowatts.

The Board tabled an increase for now as they looked for other ways to make up the shortfall. "We talked about GPS systems, and some other things to make sure we're more efficient and we also talked about the potential windfall we may get in the year '09, and we also talked about the possibility, if we come up short, we can borrow from those funds in anticipation of those funds coming to Albany," said Mayor Willie Adams.

"It's all due to weather, weather improves in our favor than we make up more than our lost revenue and that means we may not need to raise the rates, so that's why we need to wait and see what happens with the way things turn out in the future," New WG&L Board member  Dr. Amit Singh.

Customers already took a two percent increase in their bills in June, so for now the board will wait and hope for the best.  "These things could swing back in our favor, then again the trend could continue or ever get worse, there's that possibility too," said Vansant.

Another possibility for the board would be to borrow money now to pay off the shortfall and when prices improve pay off the loan. They also considered taking money from their reserves to pay off the shortfall. The Board is expected to revisit the issue at their February meeting.

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