homepage logo

White Explains Rate Increase

By Staff | Aug 18, 2010

As New Martinsville’s municipal bills are due in just a few days, residents are seeing an increase in their electric bills. However, Department Head Dave White says the increase is not as abrupt as some people may think.

“I’ve heard a couple complaints about people calculating on their bills that we increased the rates at 30-some percent,” said White at the regularly scheduled August council meeting, Aug. 2. However, he gave a presentation that showed it is only a 13.84 increase, in line with what was previously predicted. It appears to be more to some people because the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) charge has been rolled into the regular bill. However, that is not an increase, just a different way to list the cost of electricity.

For instance, in July 2009 a residential customer consuming 1,336 kwh was billed $121.04. That was derived from $35.35 for the first 500 kwh, $16.38 for the additional kwh, a $5.50 customer charge, $13.28 PCA, and $1.14 municipal tax.

For July 2010 a 1,336 kwh usage would result in a bill of $140.48: $51.05 for the first 500 kwh, $24.28 for the additional kwh, a $5.50 customer charge, and $1.62 municipal tax.

However, White said the unusually hot weather this July had most customers using more electricity than last year, resulting in higher bills. The same customer he used as an example of using 1,336 kwh in July 2009 actually used 1,650 kwh in July 2010. That bill was $171.58. “That’s strictly due to the temperature change,” said White.

So to the customer, it might look like an almost 42 percent increase, but in reality it was a combination of increased rates and increased usage.

New Martinsville electric customers are those residences and businesses located from Bob Evans south. North of that point electric customers are serviced by Allegheny Power.

“We’re doing everything we can to buy into power generation projects (to keep costs stable). What we’re trying to do is diversity our sources of power, so if one particular source goes up, the others can combine to keep it at a tolerable level,” explained White of his department’s strategy. “It’s a risky position to rely on market prices alone. Those (current) prices are going to be somewhat locked in for us. My goal is to bring you the cheapest power that we can.”

Also, White reported that there had been a couple power outages during July related to storm activity. However, the utility has not experienced any heat-related outages.

“We’ve been very fortunate. I’ve said it before that I think the tree trimming program is really paying off.” said White

In other matters at the Aug. 2 council meeting, Fran Caldwell, a resident of Eliza Street, said a Chesapeake Energy security vehicle has been parking on their street in front of a fire hydrant. Of course there is an ordinance against.

“If we ever have a fire they will not be able to get into that fire hydrant,” said Caldwell. She said all the houses in that area are old wooden frame houses located close together, a situation that could be disastrous in the event of a fire.

She has spoken with Police Chief Tim Cecil, who also lives on Eliza Street, about the issue and she said it hasn’t parked by the fire hydrant since that discussion.

“I think the law enforcement people need to be more careful where they are parking. They should know the law,” said Caldwell.

City Judge Larry Couch told her if it was parked there again, she could make a citizen’s complaint. She said she would do that.

Tim Showalter and Connie Yost were added to the membership list of the Riverfront Development Committee. Pallisco reported that the committee completed its fifth annual Festival of Memories on July 17 and they are already discussing ways to make next year’s even even better. Two additions they are considering are a beauty pageant and a kayak race.

“We want to use the river. That’s why we’re down here,” said Pallisco.

He also explained that this year the committee purchased some of its prizes from the city parks and recreation department-gift certificates for swimming, miniature golf, and paddle boats. He said maybe they would generate some income too if the recipients brought people with them to enjoy the parks.

The committee is also looking to obtain a portable stage that could be used throughout the community and they really want to update the electric service on Main Street, a project estimated to cost about $125,000. “That’s a longer term goal,” said Pallisco.

Chuck Stora, manager of the hydroelectric plant, said the plant generated at 16.7 percent below budget for July but they are still ahead for the year by 2.4 percent.

They also had their annual Federal Energy Regulatory Commission inspection in July. “Everything went great,” said Stora.

His department fixed the handicapped fishing pier by the plant. It took 12 truckloads of limestone and four truckloads of concrete.