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WPU poised to increase electric rates

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington residents will see higher electricity bills in 2009, but the Worthington Public Utilities (WPU) Water and Light Commission may hold off on increasing the current retail rate of 6.4 cents per kilowatt hour.

Instead, the commission would await the results of a survey by Missouri River Energy Services, one of the two companies from which WPU buys power. The results, which are expected to help determine the 2009 retail rate, won't be available until late December.

"I don't really want to be in a rush to get all this information and digest it quickly and make a decision on a retail rate (immediately)," said Scott Hain, WPU general manager.

For the first few months of 2009, the retail rate would hold steady and public utilities would adjust for the differences between the retail rate and actual cost by using purchased power adjustment. That means if the power purchased costs more per kilowatt hour than the retail rate allows for, the difference gets tacked on to the customer's bill. If it costs less, the customer gets a credit to their account.

"At some point in there we'll adjust the (retail) rate to reflect what our costs are ... but I don't think we'll be able to do that by Jan. 1," he said.

Hain said wholesale purchase power rates are increasing across the country.

"Based on our forecast, we are going to see about a 16 percent increase in the blended cost of purchase power and (transporting that power)," he said.

Though he's hesitant to give exact figures, he said that could translate into a half cent to one cent increase per kilowatt hour for the average consumer.

In other business, the commission Monday:

l Voted to close the public utilities offices to the public on the Friday after Thanksgiving

l Approved the Water and Wastewater Departments' 2009 Strategic Financial Plan. This will increase the average residential home's sewer bill by about $1.27 per month and the water bill by about 45 cents per month.

l Received a report on the Quarterly Haloacetic Acids and Trihalomethane present in the city's water supply. Hain said levels were as usual.