Public hearing scheduled over proposed utility increases in Atlantic


November 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing is set to take place December 3rd in Atlantic, with regard to proposed water and electric rate increases. Officials with Atlantic Municipal Utilities (AMU) are proposing a 7.5-percent increase in electricity rate, and a 10-percent water rate increase. If approved, the rates would add on-average, about seven-dollars per month to AMU residential customers’ bills.

The average monthly increase for residential electric customers in Atlantic would amount to about $4.50, while AMU’s rural electric customers would see a $7.50 increase. Residential water bills would increase by an average of $2.10 per month, under the proposed rate increases. The utilities’ commercial customers would see their electric bills increase $17.25 per month, while the water bill would go up by about $7.20 per month, under the proposal. The proposed rates would go into effect with all customer billings dated Feb. 1st, 2013.

AMU says the proposed increases in electric rates are the result of increased costs the utility pays for wholesale power, 75-percent of which is supplied by AMU’s ownership in a coal-fired power plant in Council Bluffs. 20-percent of their power is Hydro-generate, and derived from the Western Area Power Administration. 5-percent is purchased from a Wholesale energy provider. Costs to run coal-fired power plants have exceeded $5-million dollars, according to AMU, due to Environmental compliance regulations. Additional regulations are expected to result in another $1-million in capital costs for the coal-powered industry over the next three-years. Another factor contributing to the increased cost of wholesale electricity, is increases in costs to transport coal.

AMU says the proposed water rate increases are the result of inadequate cash flow needed to meet aging infrastructure and debt obligation requirements. A public meeting on the proposed changes will take place 5:30-p.m. Monday, Dec. 3rd, in the Atlantic Municipal Utility’s Business Office.