Drought factor in APC rate increase

Published 4:02 am Monday, June 25, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
A slight shock to Atmore residents may occur when they open their Alabama Power Co. bill next month and find it more expensive than usual.
Beginning July 1 Alabama Power Co. customers will pay more per kilowatt-hour. According to Peggie Byrd, Atmore's Alabama Power Co. branch office manager, the average increase will be approximately 5 percent, but the extra money made will not go directly to the company.
"The average residential customer will experience an increase of $5.64 a month," Byrd said. "Alabama Power is not making a profit on this at all. This increase will simply cover the rising costs of fuel."
Byrd said that fuel expenses are not the only force driving the prices higher.
"We are experiencing an extreme drought and the temperatures continue to incline," Byrd said. "The lake levels and river flow are at low levels. Usually we would use hydro for energy levels, but because of the drought we are not able to."
Byrd said the increase would be even higher, but the company is decreasing its monthly disaster reserve charge by $1.73 a month.
"We are able to offset some of the increase because we are decreasing our national disaster fund," she said.
Even with the increase, Byrd said Alabama Power Co. customers will still be paying less than customer's of other electric companies.
"Alabama Power prices will still probably be 15 percent below what the national average is, even after the increase," Byrd said. "All power companies are going up right now because the cost of fuel has skyrocketed everywhere and the impact of the drought is also having an effect in increasing the power bill."
The Public Service Commission approved the increase, which is the second surge in Alabama Power Co. prices this year.
"Everything we do has to be approved by the PSC," Byrd said. "We can't just go around increasing our prices."
For more information on Alabama Power Co., visit www.alabamapower.com.

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