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Hartselle Enquirer

Winter warmth will cost you more: HU increase follows TVA 20 percent jump

By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
TVA electric rate increases totaling 20 percent have been approved as a pass-through to Hartselle Utilities and Joe Wheeler Electric Co-Op customers. Boards of directors of HU and the Co-Op acted on the increases at regular meetings Aug. 25 and 26, respectively. The rate increases will go into effect Oct. 1.
The moves followed a 3 percent base rate increase and a 17 percent quarterly fuel cost adjustment imposed by TVA’s board of directors on to its distributors Aug. 20. This brings to 10 percent the amount the base rate has increased since last April.
HU General Manager Ferrell Vest said the rate adjustments to distributors stem from rising coal and natural gas prices as well as the need to purchase power from outside sources to meet peak demand.
HU’s chief financial officer Bob Sittason said HU generated $485,000 from pass-through rate increases in fiscal 2008 and projected that the figure could grow to $2.3 million in fiscal 2009. The TVA fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30
The rate increase will start at the beginning of fall, something that will help customers in the short term, Vest said.
“The silver lining in all of this is that the higher rates will take effect when electric demand from our customers is at its lowest point in the year,” Vest said. “But electric bills during the January-March quarter will reflect the full impact of the increase.”
TVA director Howard Thrailkill of Huntsville said, “Unfortunately, a number of market forces are causing the cost of fuels and [purchased power to skyrocket. We had no alternative but to increase the price of electricity to cover these costs.”
To cushion the impact of the rate increase, TVA is encouraging consumers to resort to conservation measures. A free home energy audit is available at the Hartselle Utilities office or by visiting www.energyright.com. After the audit is completed and returned to TVA, the consumer receives detailed reports with suggestions on ways to save energy.