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MEAG fee increase likely to prompt 10 percent rate increase at WG&L

MEAG, WG&L's electricity provider is planning on raising their fee by $7 million next year.

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

— Facing the second multi-million dollar spike from the provider of its electricity in two years, WG&L officials said during their meeting Thursday that residential and consumer electric rates could jump by at least 10 percent to help offset the unexpected costs.

The Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission is the largest single consumer of electricity from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia in the state and Thursday, WG&L Finance Director John Vansant, III, told board members that MEAG has given notice of a proposed $7 million fee increase for the next calendar year.

In total, the increase translates to nearly $16 million in increases forced on WG&L since 2010.

In July, WG&L Board Members voted to raise rates in order to generate additional revenues to help offset the current fee increases, which Vansant said it did to the tune of roughly $4 million. But, speaking candidly to the board, Vansant said that just wasn't enough.

Despite the discussion, the board took no action to raise rates Thursday.

"We're in a $12 million hole here," Vansant said. "We're going to have to find that money somewhere or the alternative is to run out of money. It's as simple as that."

The fee increases in just the last two years eclipse even WG&L's payroll, Vansant said, which is roughly $14 million.

When asked by Albany Mayor Willie Adams, who by virtue of his office also serves as chairman of the WG&L Board, what was behind the fee increases, Vansant said he believes it is largely a combination of market factors like the cost of coal, increased environmental regulations that have driven up the cost of generating electricity, and Georgia Power, who owns the majority share of Georgia's power plants.

"Georgia Power tells MEAG how it's going to be," he said. "Georgia Power is making the decisions, they own the majority of the power plants and it's costing them more to generate power so they're passing that cost along."

In an attempt to temper the bad news, WG&L General Manager Lemuel Edwards reminded the board that the utilities rates were still on average less than most municipal utilities across the state and were 35 percent below those of Georgia Power.

Comments

Terihdfxr 2 years, 4 months ago

Poorest city in the us, we can afford this. URggg Im so sick of being nickle and dimed to death. Gas, Food, Clothing, general cost of living, everything goes up except pay rate here in the so called Good life city. We need a goverment overhaul, Grow your own, Make your own, Support your own.

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wilson 2 years, 4 months ago

No mention of the MEAG refund that could be used to offset these increases. The ratepayers should have nearly $100 million to cover these increases but the City Commission voted to take the money from the ratepayers and use it to cover their own fiscal irresponsibility.

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wilson 2 years, 4 months ago

It is a shame that everyone seems to have forgotten that the ratepayers already paid for this and many more increases but the City Commission stole our money for other purposes.

J.D. why don't you ask some Commissioners why the MEAG refund isn't used to cover this increase?

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 4 months ago

I totally agree, that is the real question that needs to be asked. This is just highway robbery of the rate payers. The commission is the REAL problem here in Albany, but somehow they keep getting re-elected. I just hope the Sec. of State investigator is looking at all the races in Nov. and not just Ward 2 because something just isn't right.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 4 months ago

I love how the Herald is always quick to report that whole "it costs less here than other places in the region" stuff. What's missing is that the median income tends to be significantly less here as well, so small increases hurt worse here.

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supersquawker 2 years, 4 months ago

Don't miss the fact that Obama's EPA regulations have increased the cost of coal generated electricity. If He had gotten His "Cap and Trade" through before the 2010 return to sanity (elections) then the cost increases would be double or triple or even more than JUST 10%.

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