City to ab­sorb some power costs

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

Ge­or­gia has been hit by high un­em­ploy­ment and ex­treme weather dur­ing the past year, and the City of Cov­ing­ton is hop­ing to give util­ity cus­tomers a lit­tle re­lief.

Newton County res­i­dents have ex­pe­ri­enced two very cold win­ters and a warmer than av­er­age sum­mer, and they’ve used more elec­tric­ity and gas — and paid for it.

Cov­ing­ton is go­ing to be ab­sorb­ing $2.3 mil­lion of the cost of elec­tric­ity, which it nor­mally passes through to cus­tomers. The money will be di­verted from the New Gen­er­a­tion Fund, which is one of the funds the city in­vests in as part of its part­ner­ship in the Mu­nic­i­pal Elec­tric Author­ity of Ge­or­gia.

The money will re­duce the power cost ad­just­ment, or PCA, on cus­tomer’s bills from 1.97 cents per kilo­watt hour to 1.47 cents per kilo­watt hour, be­gin­ning in Fe­bru­ary. Be­cause the city’s base elec­tric costs have not changed since 2000, the power cost ad­just­ment is used to pass on ad­di­tional costs that the city’s in­curs be­cause of higher mar­ket prices for elec­tric­ity.

In 2008, elec­tric cus­tomers used an av­er­age of 1127 kilo­watt hours per month. Us­ing those

num­bers, Util­ity Di­rec­tor Bill Meecham said in an e-mail that the av­er­age cus­tomer would save $5.63 per month, and $67.62 per year, based on the power cost re­duc­tion.

Al­though, the sav­ings are not huge, of­fi­cials hope they will off­set some of the ad­di­tional costs caused by res­i­dents us­ing more elec­tric­ity dur­ing ex­treme weather.

Mayor Kim Carter said Thurs­day that the city is also work­ing on a list of talk­ing points to help ex­plain to cus­tomers how the ex­treme weather has in­creased their bills. The city has not raised its base rates since 2000, but cus­tomers us­age has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing the past year.

Adding an air­port han­gar

The city is plan­ning to add an ad­di­tional air­plane han­gar to in­crease its cus­tomer base at the air­port. The city is look­ing to build out from the ex­ist­ing air­port apron, but must get the soil tested be­cause a now­closed land­fill was lo­cated nearby, City Man­ager Steve Hor­ton said Fri­day. Wilmer En­gi­neer­ing will per­form the soil test­ing at a price of $4,265.

Pen­sion switch

The city is plan­ning to switch from a 100 per­cent city funded pen­sion plan to an em­ployee driven 401(k) based sys­tem on July 1.

Gov­ern­ments are dis­cov­er­ing that em­ployee funded pen­sion plans are un­sus­tain­able, and are mak­ing the switch to 401(k) plans that the pri­vate sec­tor made years ago.

On Thurs­day, the elected of­fi­cials dis­cussed whether they should re­main on the pre­vi­ous pen­sion plan or switch to a 401(k) plan.

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