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LaGrange’s electricity rates remain below state average

How do your electricity bills compare to others around the state? The Georgia Public Service Commission’s municipal summer and winter residential rate survey for summer 2018 was released earlier this month, allowing residents to make that exact comparison.

According to the survey, in the winter, the City of LaGrange Utilities charged $101.65 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1017 per kilowatt-hour) and $112.50 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1125 per kilowatt-hour) for electricity in the summer. LaGrange was below the state average of $119.03 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.119 per kilowatt-hour) in the winter and $124.70 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1247 per kilowatt-hour) in the summer, while Hogansville and West Point were above state average.

The City of LaGrange’s utility rate for electricity is the 9th lowest for winter and 16th lowest out of the 94 Georgia utility providers surveyed for 1,000 kilowatt number of hours of usage.

“Our utility rates are among the lowest in Georgia and the Southeast because we have a very efficient generation portfolio, low overhead and no debt on our distribution system,” LaGrange Utilities Director Patrick Bowie said in an email. “We have also been fortunate to have strong leadership and good decision making from our mayor and council through the years.”

In June, the LaGrange City Council voted to increase utility rates, at an electric rate increase for residential customers of an additional $3.07 per month for the average home or $5.96 per month for a general service customer. The increase took affect July 1 and was included in the survey, according to Bowie. LaGrange uses funds from utilities instead of a millage rate to fund city functions ranging from public safety to roads.

“Since 1998, the City of LaGrange has financed municipal operations largely through sales tax and utility revenues,” LaGrange City Manager Meg Kelsey said. “This has allowed the city to operate entirely without the use of levying a city property tax.”

According to the survey, the City of Hogansville Electric came in above state average, though far from the most expensive provider. The city charged $129.19 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1292 per kilowatt-hour) in the winter and $136.22 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours (also $0.1362 per kilowatt-hour) in the summer. Hogansville has been criticized for high utility rates, and while Hogansville’s electricity rates were ranked 79th in the state for summer and 75th for winter out of the 94 Georgia utility providers surveyed for 1,000 kilowatt number of hours of usage, those rates remain about $10 from the average rate among utility providers surveyed.

“We are not unsympathetic to people that have high utility bills, and we want to fix those problems, but it is not rates,” Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz said. “The vast majority of it is not rates, it is the insulation of the house. In our opinion, that is what the main problem is.”

Stankiewicz said Hogansville is considering a program similar to one already in place in LaGrange that would make it possible for the city to inspect homes for substandard conditions, including insulation, when the name on the utility account changes in order to encourage landlords to perform necessary upgrades.

“We are struggling to impose a system such as LaGrange has that whenever a rental property changes [tenants]… that would trigger our ability to go inspect the house for any kind of code violations,” Stankiewicz said.

The City of Hogansville did raise some utility rates in June, but those would not have impacted the survey according to Stankiewicz.

The City of West Point Utilities charged $112.50 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1017 per kilowatt-hour) in the winter and $147.90 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1479 per kilowatt-hour) in the summer for electricity. West Point’s rates were ranked 90th in the state for summer and 31st for the winter out of the 94 Georgia utility providers surveyed for 1000 kilowatt number of hours of usage.

“The City of West Point is committed to providing high quality electric service to its customers at an affordable rate,” West Point City Manager Ed Moon said in an email. “The West Point Utility Department provides quick response to customer request, maintains and makes annual improves to the West Point electric system. The West Point City Council considers any recommended rate adjustments annually during the budget process. Through efficient, quality work and a strong team effort West Point is in a position to continue to offer electric service at a competitive, affordable rate.”

In comparison, Diverse Power charged $134 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.134 per kilowatt -hour) in the winter and $141.25 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1413 kilowatt-hour) in the summer.

Georgia Power charged $110.48 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1105 per kilowatt-hour) in the winter and $131.08 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1311 per kilowatt-hour) in the summer. The lowest electricity rates in the state listed on the survey were for Chickamauga Electric System and City of Sandersville Electric. Chickamauga Electric charged $ 92.96 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.093 per kilowatt hour) in the winter. In the summer, City of Sandersville Electric charged $50 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.05 per kilowatt-hour).

The highest utility rate in the state listed on the survey was for City of Whigham Utilities, which charged $170.90 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours ($0.1709 per kilowatt-hour) in the winter and summer.

The survey also included rate comparisons for 50 kilowatt-hours, 1,500 kilowatt-hours and 2,000 kilowatt-hours, as rates do vary slightly. To view a full list of rates for comparison, visit Psc.state.ga.us/electric/surveys/residentialrs.asp.