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APC rates lowered, Southern Pine may cut rates soon

By By Lisa Tindell
Just in time for the cold snap, Alabama Power customers will enjoy lower power rates in the new year, and Southern Pine Electric Cooperative officials said they are hopeful to extend similar cuts soon.
In early December, officials with the Alabama Public Service Commission announced the approval of a 4 percent drop in rates for Alabama Power Company’s residential customers throughout the state. The rate decrease went into effect Jan. 1.
Bernie Fogarty, spokesman for Alabama Power’s Mobile district, said the rate reduction amounts to more than 7 percent overall.
Fogarty said Alabama Power Company’s ability to allow for the rate reduction was made possible because of several factors.
Those factors are also playing a role in consideration of lower power rates for another local electric provider as well.
Vince Johnson, CEO/general manager with Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, said he is hopeful the local electricity provider will be in a position to reduce rates in 2010 as well.
Johnson said the price of natural gas, a product used to fire the plants that produce electricity for the provider, has been dropping in recent months.
Johnson said Southern Pine Electric Cooperative serves fewer customers than Alabama Power, which means his company has less to work with when considering a rate reduction.
Fogarty said Alabama Power works hard to keep rates down for the company’s customers.
Overall, Alabama Power’s rates are going down by $350 million, or 7.4 percent. Commercial customers, such as retail stores, will see a 5 percent drop and industrial customers, 16.3 percent.
Fogarty said officials with Alabama Power are looking at the possibility of cutting rates even more by April.
Johnson did not speculate on the amount of a decrease customers of Southern Pine may see in the coming months.