City to use existing study for electric review

Published 6:43 pm Friday, May 13, 2016

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, unanimously voted to not pay for a new study of its electric rates and the cost of providing electric service to the city’s power customers.

The study would have cost $24,500 and been conducted by Utility Financial Services. The study’s cost would have been defrayed in part by a $5,000 grant from ElectriCities, to which the city belongs. A cost-of-services study, among other things, is used to fairly assign charges to cover the costs of providing services to each customer class.

“I think this is an unnecessary expenditure. We had a cost-of-service done and the results were presented to us last October. I don’t think we need to spend another $25,000 for a cost-of-service study when we’ve got one on the shelf that’s six months old,” Councilman Doug Mercer said. The existing study should be sufficient for city officials to use in evaluating the city’s electric rates, he said.

“We haven’t looked at it in any detail. So, I would suggest that we not approve the budget ordinance amendment for a (new) study, spend some time studying this one and make necessary adjustments based on this report,” Mercer said.

The study, presented to the city Oct. 19, 2015, recommends that Washington’s electric customers should have their overall electric rates (per kilowatt hour) reduced by 5.64 percent, with residential customers receiving a 2.52 percent reduction. The study also recommends increasing some fees, including facilities charges, related to providing electric service. Booth & Associates conducted the study.

At that October meeting, Booth & Associates spokesman Terry Brege said the goal of the study and its recommendations was to fairly distribute the costs of providing power to the different rate classes so they pay their fair share based on their power consumption and associated costs of providing service to them.

Brege said a reason the city might want to consider increasing the facilities charge — at least in the customer column and over time mover it closer to the distribution column — is it produces rate stability, revenue stability.

The city is considering adjusting the electric rate for industrial customers so they fairly share the burden of paying the city’s wholesale power cost. The proposed budget keeps power rates at their current levels.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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