Electricity rate hike possible

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Vidalia customers’ electricity rates will probably go up starting in July – but town officials will not know how much the increase will be until at least Friday.

&uot;The change would simply be made to recover our cost of power,&uot; Town Manager Kenneth Davis said Tuesday.

The price of electricity the town buys from the Louisiana Electric Power Association is expected to go up, but LEPA will not announce those new rates until &uot;sometime after the 15th,&uot; Davis said.

Email newsletter signup

According to Davis, the price Vidalia paid for electricity from LEPA was 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour last month, although that rate fluctuates from month to month.

With a rate increase that took effect in November, Vidalia now charges residential customers $86.06 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, up from $76.15, according to figures.

&uot;To come up with the extra money is going to be really hard for some people,&uot; said Palm Street resident Holly Guidroz, who spends $200 to $300 on electricity in an average summer month. &uot;It’s especially unfair given the economy around here.

&uot;That’s what the hydro plant was designed to do – cushion us from rate hikes,&uot;&160;she said. In past years, royalties from the Sidney A. Murray Hydroelectric Station in south Concordia Parish were used to subsidize utility rates.

But due to low river stages in late 1999 and 2000, the station has temporarily deferred paying royalties to Vidalia. Louisiana Hydroelectric now owes Vidalia about $2.8 million in royalties and interest, but officials are not sure when that money will be paid to the town.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, who was not available for comment Tuesday, has noted that Vidalia’s electric rates are lower than those of many similar-sized towns throughout Louisiana.

For example, Entergy Louisiana – which serves the Ferriday area and much of Tensas Parish – charges $87.20 a month for 1,000 kilowatt hours.

But Vidalia’s rates are higher than the $65.87 charged by Concordia Electric, whose area includes unincorporated Concordia and Catahoula parishes and the Town of Sicily Island.

In Vidalia, minimum rates for natural gas also rose by $4 per month per customer beginning in November due to rising natural gas costs.

Despite possible rate hikes, Guidroz said that high electricity bills are a price she is willing to pay for comfort – namely, being able to keep her thermostat at 70, even at the height of summer.

&uot;It’s probably doubtful I’d cut back, because someone’s here almost all the time, and I&160;like to keep it comfortable,&uot; she said.