Albany - If you're an Albany Water, Gas and Light customer, your bill is about to go up. W,G&L Commissioners agreed on a 5% rate hike Thursday for water and electricity. That translates into a $5 a month increase for the average customer.
South Georgia in the Summer means A/C working overtime and getting paid for it, too. High utility bills are showing up in mail boxes.
"I just feel sorry for the people who have to go through this, I really do," said Martha Taylor. She participates in the budget payment plan set up by Water, Gas and Light so her bill is the same every month. But she'll soon be paying a little more.
She said, "That's going to be tough on people who are on a set income. It's going to really be rough for them and I can feel for them."
On Thursday, Water, Gas and Light Commissioners approved a new budget with a 5% rate increase for water and electricity. Finance Director John Vansant says the rate increase is a necessary evil, since the cost of energy to the utility continues to increase.
He said, "What we're looking at on the average bill, this will be a $4 per month increase and water on the average bill, it will be less than $1/month."
Here's a look at what the change in electricity means for the customer who uses 1000 kWh a month: The current rate is $84.80. With the 5% increase, it will go up to $89.04. A difference of $4.24.
"Our rates are, comparatively speaking to other MEAG cities, to Georgia power and to the state wide average," said Vansant. "They will still be among some of the lowest rates in the state."
Let's take a look: If you were with Georgia Power, you would pay $109.08 for that same electricity. A difference of $20. And the new rate for WG&L is still $7 less than the statewide average.
Taylor says she's glad she's on the budget plan and thinks others should sign up too. "I would because then they know how much they're going to pay every month and it wouldn't be as bad for them." Especially since the dog days of summer are still to come.
Water and electricity aren't the only places you'll see an increase on your bill. Sewage and garbage rates are going up by two and a half percent. That's a city charge, billed by WG&L.
Want to sign up for the budget billing plan? There's one requirement: You must have been a Water, Gas and Light customer for 12 months, so they can take an average of your bills. Call WG&L to sign up. The number is 229-883-8330.