ST. GEORGE – In a recent meeting of the St. George City Council, the council approved a 7 percent rate increase across the board for St. George power service due to an overall rise in energy and transmission costs. The increase will bring the average rate to 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour for residential customers who use around 1,500 kilowatt hours per month.
René Fleming, conservation coordinator for the city, said the 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour rate is a blended, average rate that largely applies to an overall average rate for residential customers. Whatever a customer will be paying the city will largely depend on how much power they consume, which can also be based on many variables, such as the size of home and the time of year, summer versus winter for example. So the 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour is not a fixed, blanket rate, but the total average after all other factors are applied.
The city has a base residential power rate of $15.65 per month, Fleming said. In addition to the base rate, customers who use 0-800 kilowatts per hour pay 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour, while those who use 800 and above kilowatts per hour are charged 8.1 cents. Fleming said St. George residents tend to use between 1,200 and 1,500 kilowatt hours per month.
Additional details on utility rates of the City of St. George can be found on the city’s website. Information on the website has been updated to reflect rate increases.
Both Fleming and St. George City Manager Gary Esplin said the new rate is comparable to other cities in the area at an average of 9.7 cents per kilowatt hour. The national average is between 11 and 12 cents per kilowatt hour, Fleming said.
Reasons behind rise in power cost
While the city is able to generate a part of its own power, a large portion of it is purchased from, and transmitted in by outside agencies. These agencies are subject to federal regulations that focus on the production and utilization of cleaner sources of energy, while also moving to phase out coal-fire plants, a longtime source of electrical generation. There are factors that are beyond the city’s control, city officials said during the city council meeting.
Energy gained from alternative power sources can be expensive to transmit across power lines, Esplin said, hence one of the reasons the overall cost has risen for municipalities and, in turn, their residents.
As well, the annual city budget only accounts for a potential 4 percent rise in power costs. Power costs to the city have exceeded that amount, necessitating a rise in rates to city residents. Raising the price was needed to help the city keep it’s bonds viable, Esplin said. If the city lost the ability to pay on those bonds, it would fall into default.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.