Power bills could see jump

Published 7:33 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Most Pike County residents will have to make some extra room in their budgets to cover upcoming utility bills.

“We saw a drastic increase in the February bills due to the extreme weather we experienced and the increase in power usage for that billing cycle,” said Brian Morgan, employee for the Troy Utilities Department.

Different residents are billed for different time periods depending on where in the city they live.

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For some Troy Utilities customers, the February invoices that customers will be receiving are for their power usage from Dec. 1 through Jan. 1. Those customers will probably see an even higher bill in March. Other Consumers’ bills will reflect usage from Dec. 20 through Jan. 20, and several others will receive bills for periods falling somewhere between those timeframes.

For all customers though, a sharp increase in the amount-due column should be expected for the usage period covering those few weeks of abnormally low temperatures in January, that saw south-Alabamians scrambling for their mittens.

Of course the increase is not just limited to Troy Utilities customers.

“My light bill is higher than my house payment,” said John Green, a construction worker and customer of South Alabama Electric Cooperative.

Green was referring to a bill that reflected service used from Dec. 3 through Jan. 4, a period of time that covered just the early stages of the Jan. frost. Green said he lives in a doublewide trailer with energy efficient light bulbs and his bill had jumped to $468.38.

“It’s normally about $290.00,” he said.

“December is always a month that is up,” said Max Davis, general manager of SAEC.

In addition, Davis said that irregularly cold temperatures made matters worse.

“We’ve never experienced this kind of demand and usage in a winter period,” he said.

“It was a huge increase.”

Green was also concerned about a $17.64 Privilege tax that appeared on his bill.

Davis said that the tax is a consumer tax that the state charges on Kilowatt per Hour (KWH) sales. KWH is used to measure energy usage. Davis explained that legislation requires that the language used on the customer invoice must show the exact name of the tax as it appears in the Code of Alabama. The requirement of the tax can be found in Title 40 Chapter 21 of the code.

Power usage in the City of Brundidge has been up as well.

City Manager Brit Thomas told The Messenger in an earlier article that Alabama’s own Antique City had recorded record-breaking power usage. Residents should expect to see the results of that usage soon.

As consumers shiver at the sight of their bills to close out this winter, utility companies say they are doing their best to soften the blow.

“We try to keep our costs down and we have the lowest rates anywhere in the area,” said Morgan. Morgan said the average monthly household bill for 1000 KWH is $85.00 in Troy. That figure is compared to a typical $120.00 charged by other companies under Alabama Power, according to an AP article.

Likewise, SAEC officials said they are doing their best help customers like Green.

“We will be working with our consumers,” Davis said. “There may be instances where consumers may have trouble paying their bills, and if that’s the case they need to contact us.”