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Higher electric rates facing Monett

Friday, June 22, 2012

Electricity costs for the City of Monett from Empire District Electric are facing steep increases for the coming year. Several ordinances were introduced to adjust costs at the June meeting of the Monett City Council on Wednesday.

City administrator Dennis Pyle said under the city's new contract with Empire, which went into effect last year, the cooperative can propose new rates each year with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Pyle said Empire has requested a 15 percent increase for electricity and a 60 percent increase in the cost to transmit electricity on its service lines. New rates were due to take effect on June 1.

Monett, Mt. Vernon, Lockwood and Chetopa, Kan., all municipal customers of Empire under the new contract, jointly filed a protest with FERC of the new rates. Based on a rate study and a cost of service study by the engineering firm of Allgeier, Martin and Associates, the city proposed an alternative rate.

Under the city's plan, industrial customers would see a rate increase of 7.08 percent. Residential customers would see rates rise by 12.5 percent. Large commercial rates would rise by 12.5 percent and small commercial customers would see an increase of 10.6 percent.

The last time Monett passed along a rate increase to industrial customers was in 2008, Pyle said. The last commercial increase was in 2006.

The average residential customer uses 983 kilowatt hours of electricity in a month. If the rates proposed by the city are approved, the cost to customers would rise by $9.07 per month. Residential customers more typically use 1,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. For them, Pyle said electric bills would increase by $13.23 per month.

The new rates could be passed on to Monett customers for the billing period beginning July 1. Mayor Jim Orr set public discussion on the four ordinances needed to adjust rates for a special meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10.

Pyle said the city requested FERC halt any increases in transmission costs for at least five months. The proposed 60 percent increase would cost the city $48,000 more per month.

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