City applies credit to stabilize power costs

COVINGTON -- The Covington City Council is once again working to keep costs down for electric customers.

The council recently agreed to use a portion of a $1.12 million credit from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia to help stabilize power costs. The credit will be paid to the city at a rate of $93,445 per month throughout 2012. The council agreed to apply half of the total credit -- more than $560,000 -- to stabilize and potentially reduce utility bills. The other half was designated for the New Generation Fund to apply to future energy-related costs, such as the city's investment in the new Plant Vogtle, scheduled to come online in 2017.

City Manager Steve Horton recommended the entire amount be applied to the New Generation Fund, saying that "We don't know what power costs are going to be then," adding that "the unknown scares me more than the known." But Horton said, "I know people are hurting today, so y'all have to make that decision."

Mayor Kim Carter added that, "We have done our part to stabilize rates over the past year and we've all acknowledged that's not a sustainable model. At some point we are going to need to plan for the future."

Horton said the city has applied more than $4 million in funds to stabilize power rates.

Councilwoman Janet Goodman recommended that the credit be evenly split to help with both current and future costs.

"I know people are hurting now, but they're going to be hurting then too so I thought that was a pretty good compromise," she said. Her motion was unanimously approved.

In other news, the council has changed its meeting schedule in December. The council typically meets the first and third Mondays of the month for a 5:30 p.m. work session followed by a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m at City Hall. For December, meetings will take place on Monday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 13.