While a residential customer would on average pay 50 cents more per month with changes proposed to Cartersville's electric rate ordinance, some local manufacturers would see a nearly 2 percent increase.
Cartersville Electric System Director David Myers said those "large power" users include Shaw Industries and plastics-producer ATR. But "extra large power" users, such as Linde and Anheuser-Busch would see a 0.76 percent decrease.
Two weeks ago when the council conducted a first reading of the proposed ordinance, it met with opposition from representatives of several local manufacturers, including some of Bartow County's largest employers.
The proposed reapportionment the council is expected to consider tonight would change rates for various classifications of customers, based on how much it costs the city to provide electricity to those classes.
"What [the manufacturers] are trying to do is take their increase, and spread it over the residential and commercial customers," Myers said.
In a 2011 study, the city found, based on its costs, the current rate structure results in over- and under-collections from the various classes of customers. The more customers in and the more kilowatts used by a class of customers, the more it costs the city to provide electricity to that class, according to Myers.
"It has to do with the size, how they use they energy—if it's consistent or if it's on and off, on and off. It looks at everything," Myers said, adding officials don't expect further cost increases in the next 12 months.
With a 10.5 percent county unemployment rate, Mayor Matt Santini has said creating jobs is the biggest challenge for the city. In its Urban Redevelopment plan, Cartersville has made an effort to revitalize industrial areas affected by layoffs, reductions and closings, and as a result of other programs, various tax breaks are made available to manufacturers locating or expanding in certain areas.
A second public hearing on the proposed electric rate adjustment is set for the council's 7 p.m. meeting. Manufacturers in opposition said Cartersville already is one of the most expensive electricity providers, The Daily Tribune News reported. They opposed any type of rate increase, citing a price hike would affect their bottom lines in an already tough economic environment.
Meyers added the proposed rate changes are necessary due to an increase in costs to the city, a result of three main factors:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-required controls are being installed at one of "our" coal plants,
- Nuclear fuel costs have increased, and
- In the current economy, there's no market for excess power the city sells and credits back to its customers.
If approved, the rate changes would take effect with March 19 electric bills. The recommended changes would affect the following customer categories:
- Residential: +0.42 percent
- Small General Service: +1.91 percent
- Small Power: -4.70 percent
- Medium Power: -4.97 percent
- Large Power: +1.77 percent
- Extra Large Power: -0.76 percent
- Economic Development: -1.99 percent
- Street Lights: +19.50 percent
- City Government: -1.97 percent