Brundidge electric bills ‘fuel’ concerns

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Features Editor

New billing software for the city of Brundidge caused some hair-raising reactions from the city’s utility customers when their bills arrived in the mail Tuesday.

A new line item, "fuel," appeared on the bills and caused customers to call city hall asking, "what?" and "why?"

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What is this new charge?, they wanted to know, and why are we having to pay for ‘fuel?’

Britt Thomas, Brundidge city manager, said there is absolutely no new charge for the city’s utility customers.

"The fuel charge has been included on the bills for the city since 1980," Thomas said. "Customers just didn’t see it until now because it was included in the line item, ‘electricity.’"

The reason for the "sighting" now is a

new billing software which is "for everybody, but specifically for no one.

"The city had been using custom software for its billing and we told it what to do," Thomas said. "The new software does not allow us to do that, so the fuel charge appears as a line item instead of being included in the charge for electricity. That has caused some questions among our customers and some concern that they are being charged additionally for fuel. That’s just not true. There are no additional charges."

According to Thomas the fuel cost for producing electricity is passed on to its city members by Alabama Electric Cooperative (AEC) and the city passes those charges on to its customers.

"AEC generates and transmits electricity for its customers who assume the costs of the fuel commodities necessary to

produce that electricity," Thomas said.

Because of the energy crisis of late,

the cost of fuel has almost tripled from .0039 cents per kilowatt hours used to .011.

"The commodity market rate is variable. Therefore, the fuel line item will fluctuate –

usually on a monthly basis," Thomas said.

"What customers see as a fuel charge this month won’t necessarily be the charge they will see next month."

Although the new billing software has caused a stir among many Brundidge utility customers, it is actually "a more honest presentation of their bill" and does not reflect an increase in the cost of electricity.

Thomas said, on a very positive note,

there has not been an increase in the cost per kilowatt hours for electric usage in Brundidge since November 1993 when the charges were increased from 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour to 6 cents.

"That’s eight years without an increase and there aren’t many things that haven’t increased in cost during

that length of time," Thomas said, adding that’s a good deal for the city’s utility customers.