Flint Energies plans rate increase

WARNER ROBINS – Flint Energies has announced that it will increase its residential electricity rate from 8.1 cents to 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour effective with billings beginning April 1.

The increase reflects the increased cost the electric membership corporation must pay to purchase power from the Southern Company, said Jimmy Autry, Flint’s senior vice president for member and community relations.

The 1.4-cent increase will be offset, at least to begin with, by an equal decrease in the wholesale power cost adjustment (WPCA) on the bills.

The WPCA line was added to bills in 2005 to be open and transparent in reflecting fluctuating costs for electric power above and beyond what was projected to be collected by the normal rate structure, Autry said.

In a news release, Flint CEO Bob Ray said that each month Flint compares the amount and cost of power purchased and power sold to its annual budget. Any variations in the actual versus projected power costs go into a formula that sets the WPCA. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, all members share in the increased costs of electric energy, even when those costs are outside the control of the cooperative board and employees.

“Flint’s power is generated primarily from hydroelectric dams, coal, natural gas, as well as limited amounts from green power and oil,” Ray said. “As much as we would like to sometimes be able to purchase electricity from sources that reflect international oil prices or fuel prices at the pump, especially now with prices down, those elements have only a limited influence on Flint’s wholesale cost of power.

“We are required by our lenders to meet certain financial ratios each year. At the bottom line, power costs for 2008 were about $19 million more than were expected, which was reflected in the WPCA.”

Autry said with the new rates, the WPCA will move back to zero in April, but that it could fluctuate again in ensuing months as power costs change.

“It can go up or down. We had a negative WPCA for much of 2007 because power costs were down, and that lowered bills for customers,” Autry said. “But more often it goes up.”

Flint’s last rate increase was in April 2007 when it went from 6.55 cents to 8.1 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Rate schedule changes also will be made for commercial, agricultural, large industrial and customer choice accounts.

But the residential base service charge will remain $20.

Flint Energies serves about 250,000 customers in portions of 17 midstate counties, including Houston, Bibb, Peach, Crawford, Dooly, Macon, Monroe, Sumter, Taylor, Twiggs and Upson.