Electric Options Are on the Table
Cost of Clinton’s electricity could jump 30% - 1 of 5 options on the PMPA table.
A plan proposed by the Cities of Rock Hill and Greer could raise the per-kiowatt-hour cost of electricity to Clinton by 30%.
Board members of PMPA, the city’s electrical provider, heard this news among 5 scenarios presented by the agency’s engineer during a meeting this morning in Greer.
Now, the City of Clinton pays 9.96 cents-per-kilowatt hour for electricity generated by the Catawba Nuclear Plan. If the Rock-Hill-Greer plan goes into effect, Clinton will be charged 12.92 cents-per-kilowatt-hour.
That doesn’t mean Clinton’s electrical rates to customers will go up 30%; these rates under discussion involve just the cost of operating PMPA. Rock Hill says it’s been paying much more than its “fair share” in that area for many years.
However, any time the per-kilowatt-hour charge goes up, the City of Clinton has only one place to cover the cost – its ratepayers.
It’s an issue that more than just “numbers on the wall,” Newberry Mayor Foster Senn said.
“These are people – people in poverty and seniors pay proportionately more every time there is a rate increase,” Senn said.
To cover the extra expense, Rock Hill and Greer have offered to buy excess power from Clinton and Union. These alleged “secret arrangements” are the subject of a lawsuit filed by Newberry, Laurens, Easley and others against Rock Hill, Greer, Clinton, Union and PMPA – the lawsuit was not directly addressed at today’s meeting.
However. Rock Hill is questioning whether Easley representative Joel Ledbetter should be the PMPA board chairman. That issue will come up as an “action item” at the board’s August 27 meeting.
That’s also when the PMPA (Piedmont Municipal Power Agency) board will hear another rates study – this one targets a rate structure beyond 2028. Three PMPA members – Rock Hill, Greer and Westminister – will leave PMPA as a primary source of their power after that year. The 7 remaining cities will need to figure out a rate structure going forward.
Clinton alternate board representative, Manager Bill Ed Cannon, said Clinton is “married to” PMPA until 2035. Then, in 2045, PMPA cities will face another round of contract extension agreements. (The city’s other board member, Mayor Bob McLean, did not attend.)
PMPA dates to 1980 when feasibility of the Catawba Nuclear Plant was under study. A load share ratio study was done for 1983 – 2000 for all 10 member cities; based on that study, each city decided how much of the nuclear plant it was going to own. But, Cannon said, there was “no crystal ball” to tell the cities what to do to run the agency and keep the coalition together after 2000. Others at the meeting agreed – Rock Hill and Greer have said they will take the cost of operations/rate structure matter to court if their plan to lower their costs-per-kilowatt-hour is not adopted.
A coalition of Rock Hill-Greer-Clinton-Union appears to have enough votes on the board to adopt the Rock Hill plan (the City of Rock Hill owns far more of the Catawba Nuclear Reactor than any other PMPA city; board votes are allocated by these percentages).
A change in the overall rate structure will not be considered until September, according to PMPA Executive Director Coleman Smoak.