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Alabama Power rate may increase

By By Janet Little Cooper
Alabama Power Co. plans to increase its rates 5.29 percent on Jan. 1, if the Public Service Commission approves the request at its Dec. 12 meeting.
"We are still very competitive on the national level," Alabama Power spokesman Bernie Folgarty said. "We remain 15 to 17 percent below the national average."
The increase would cost an extra $5.19 cents monthly for the average residential customer using about 1,000 kilowatt hours, power company spokesman Michael Sznajderman said.
Last year, the PSC approved three rate increases for the utility, including an environmental surcharge, for a total of nearly 12 percent.
"This is the first time we have had a raise in our rates since Alabama Power Co. plans to increase its rates 5.29 percent on Jan. 1, if the Public Service Commission approves the request at its Dec. 12 meeting.
"We are still very competitive on the national level," Alabama Power spokesman Bernie Folgarty said. "We remain 15 to 17 percent below the national average."
The increase would cost an extra $5.19 cents monthly for the average residential customer using about 1,000 kilowatt hours, power company spokesman Michael Sznajderman said.
Last year, the PSC approved three rate increases for the utility, including an environmental surcharge, for a total of nearly 12 percent.
"This is the first time we have had a raise in our rates since 2002," Folgarty said. "It was raised two percent then and then we had to have some increases last year to build up our storm reserve. But overall we are doing what we can to keep the rates down."
Sznajderman said 4.76 percent of the Jan. 1 increase goes for routine increases in the cost of doing business. The remaining 0.53 percent will pay for improvements at power plants to meet environmental regulations.
"No particular monies are going to come directly to Atmore," Folgarty said regarding the increase. "A big bulk of it will go to the power plants and the upgrades needed there. We do however pay taxes within the city limits and police jurisdiction."
Sznajderman said inflation, personnel costs, equipment and maintenance will cost more next year, Sznajderman said.
The PSC could object to the increase if it's not justified by costs or other financial figures the utility is required to show. To justify the environmental surcharge, the utility must also show evidence of projects it is planning or has under way.
The general rate increase is expected to bring in $193 million in 2007. The environmental surcharge would give the company an additional $23 million. Both will go into effect Jan. 1 if the commission does not object.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.