LaGrange City Council will vote Jan. 22 on a proposed electric rate increase that will be the third for residential and commercial customers in three years.
“Every year, we get our budget from MEAG and we have to adjust our rates accordingly,” said Patrick Bowie, LaGrange’s utilities director.
MEAG stands for Municipal Electric Authority Georgia, where LaGrange buys its power.
The per kilowatt hour cost of electricity will go up from 10.6 cents to 11 cents for residential customers, 13 to 14 cents for general service customers and 8.4 to 8.5 cents for commercial customers.
“It’s a lot easier to do the increases incrementally rather than wait and do a big increase every five years,” Bowie said. “It’s a lot more palatable to the customer.”
The reason for the proposed increase is the same reason it has been the last two years: increased costs in what the city pays to provide power. The city also has seen less use of power because of more moderate temperatures.
“It’s like a cab driver,” Bowie said. “If a cab driver only has two routes, he’s got to charge a lot more than if he had 100.”
The increase won’t mean more income for the city.
Bowie told members of LaGrange City Council earlier this week that the per-kilowatt increase in utility rates should be offset somewhat by a decreased charge for natural gas, which is included in a separate kilowatt hour charge. The charge for natural gas is dropping from 2.4 to 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour and could drop as low as 2.1 cents, he said.
“That could eventually wipe out the entire (proposed) increase,” Bowie said.
With the increase, the average residential customer would pay about $3.41 per month more for electric, but that drops to just $2.50 a month because of lower fuel charges.
To help offset the electric rate increase council passed last year, it lowered water rates later in the year.
The average monthly bill for residents will rise from $108.47 to $111.88, according to figures provided by the city. Diverse Power customers pay an average of $129.87 and Georgia Power customers pay $121.68.
The numbers LaGrange uses to compare itself to other utilities come from reports to the Georgia Public Service Commission.
General service customers will see an increase to $151.87 from $149.82 a month with the proposed increase. Diverse general service customers pay $158.36 and $188.05 for service from Diverse and Georgia Power, respectively.
If approved, the new rates should take effect Feb. 1.