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Covington power costs to increase

COVINGTON -- City of Covington customers can expect an increase in their electricity bills beginning in January.

The cost to the city to purchase power from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia is estimated to increase by 4.7 percent. Customers can expect to see slightly less of an increase, according to Bill Meecham, the city's utilities director.

A representative from MEAG notified the city that several plants are scheduled to be shut down for maintenance and other work in 2011. Particularly, Plant Scherer, a coal-fired power plant near Macon, will be affected and will have to be shut down for several months, meaning replacement power will have to be purchased.

"Even though you're buying replacement power, you still have to make payment on the plant. It's like when you own a car, if you haven't driven it for two months, you still have to make the payment," Meecham said.

MEAG will pass its increased cost on to the city, which in turn will pass that on to the customer through the PCA, or product cost adjustment, a means by which the price charged for electricity is adjusted to correspond with the costs that the city incurs to acquire and provide electric service. The council agreed Monday night to address the power cost increase through the PCA rather than a rate increase.

"Only a portion of their bill comes from wholesale costs. The base charge is still the same. The council is not looking at a rate increase," Meecham said.

If the cost increase is less than expected, customers won't be impacted as much. Meecham said he doubted it would be higher than the 4.7 percent projected.