Brundidge residents seek utility answers

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brundidge residents turned out to voice their concerns over the recent power bill increase Tuesday night at Brundidge station.

City Manager Britt Thomas told the congregation of residents the reason for the meeting was to “try and provide (them) with the facts as (the city of Brundidge) knows them.”

“We hope to provide you with some understanding of the cost of electricity,” Thomas said. “It’s not going away,” Thomas said. “We could figure the fuel charge in like everyone else.”

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Thomas acknowledged at the beginning there were still going to be a lot in the audience who wouldn’t like it.

One resident said he’s been talking to Thomas about this situation for 10-12 years.

“I’ve been here all my life,” Alvin Johnson said. “If my children and grandchildren want to live here, I want them to be able to afford to live here.”

Another resident was voiced her opinion on the power issue.

“I know who owns the power company now, Britt Thomas and Jimmy Ramage,” Terry Weimann said.

According to Thomas, the city of Brundidge is one of 20 member-owners of PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, the generation and transmission cooperative that serves the city of Brundidge with power.

Thomas also said that the city’s Mayor Jimmy Ramage also currently serves as the board chairman at PowerSouth.

According to the most recent member system residential comparison of electrical rates per 1,000 kilowatt-hours released by PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, the city was ranked eighth among the member owners before taxes and fourth after taxes.

The city of Brundidge charges residents $135.8 tax and all for 1,000-kilowatt hours.

Thomas explained that this includes a minimum $7.50 charge, energy charge of 60.00 or 6 cents per kilowatt-hour and a fuel charge of 62.96 for 1,000-kilowatt hours plus the 4 percent tax.

Questions from the audience came from all over the room.

One person asked Thomas why the city of Brundidge couldn’t buy electricity from Alabama Power Co.

Thomas told the crowd that the city of Brundidge was in a contract that had been extended sometime during 2008 until 2035 with PowerSouth but also said Alabama Power doesn’t have transmission lines in the Brundidge area.

“I feel like our council should have brought it before the people, or sought other resources” Johnson said.

Johnson isn’t the only one angry about this situation.

“It’s time that Brundidge got our mayor and council out of office,” Weimann said.

Another audience member wanted to know what exactly the fuel cost pays for.

Thomas said it pays for producing the energy and for purchased power.

According to Thomas, PowerSouth will purchase power off the grid on any day it can buy it for less than it can produce it.

Thomas said the a lot of the increases could be attributed to the four year increases in wholesale fuel, where natural gas was up 113 percent and coal prices were up 146 percent.

PowerSouth’s primary generating source, is a coal-fired power plant, and is estimated to burn around 1.5 million tons of coal each year, according to the company’s Web site.

“Over the last two or three years, they always say it costs them, but the fuel is going down,” said Tyrone Calhoun. “My fuel is $10 or $12 higher than the electricity.”

Johnson said he hopes the council will put the community at heart and come up with means to save money. But in the mean time, he said he’ll be doing a little more research.

But the bottom line was, “I can’t put any money back in your pocket,” Thomas said.