Solar Eclipse, Rates…What’s Up!
What! Yeah right! I’ll believe electric rates are DECREASING when we have a full solar eclipse! Well, we are going to have a full solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and electric rates were decreased on July 1, 2017 by about 6.7% while many other utilities are increasing rates.
In the summer of 2015, when electric bills spiked sharply due to air conditioning loads, leadership at the City of Clinton decided to take definitive steps to bring our electrical rates in line with our neighboring utilities. While our water rates were among the lowest in the state, our electrical rates were among the highest. This led to the development of short to long range actions.
One of those objectives was to complete a Cost of Service Study on each utility to determine true cost-of-service to our citizen-owner. Results indicated that electrical revenues where subsidizing water operations by about one million dollars annually. In other words, we had become “out of balance” with our rate structures when operating each utility as a stand-alone business. So, ring the “Town Bell” or, if you prefer, “Shout from the Mountain Top,” electrical rates are decreasing significantly, while water rates will increase to its true costs to provide the service.
So how does that help me, you may ask. We, the customer, use about the same amount of water month to month with little seasonal swings. The new rate structures will help level out the “spike” in summer loads with reduced electric rates, and water bearing more of its true cost of operations.
Secondly, we are able to control our water usage more easily by repairing that leaky commode, reducing the shower by a minute, and turning off the water while we are brushing our teeth.
Lastly, saving on water consumption also lowers sewer cost. These tips, and many others, will help our monthly bills to remain closely unchanged, and even decrease slightly depending on your usage patterns.
So…how does that help our great City? We are now more competitive when fighting for that next industry, restaurant or small business. I believe with the announcement of GE Renewable Resources, exciting times lay ahead for growth in all areas of our economy. Investment in our historic downtown is happening every day. Calls are being received with development projects looking for homes and much needed jobs are being brought to our citizen-owners. We need growth in two areas to put downward pressure on our rates and city taxes, increased sales of gallons and kWhs, and increased tax base. And, we are now more closely positioned to win our share of these economic growth opportunities.
Our goal is to achieve a more balanced utility bill based upon true cost-of-service. We know individual usage patterns will result in whether a bill will increase, decrease, or stay the same.
After “rebuilding” my home in Clinton and making it as energy efficient as I could afford, I project that my monthly total utility bill will increase slightly. Our city personnel are trained and positioned to assist you in navigating these rate changes. We stand ready to answer your questions, so please contact one of our customer service representatives at 833-7500 or visit our website for links and tips: www.cityofclintonsc.com.
Yes…the eclipse will occur August 21, 2017 at 2:40 p.m. and, electric rates DECREASED!
(Dale Satterfield is interim Clinton City Manager.)