Vidalia residents, businesses to receive $600,000 in rebates

Published 11:44 pm Thursday, November 30, 2017


VIDALIA — The Town of Vidalia will issue approximately $600,000 in rebate checks today to residents and businesses that purchase electrical power from the town.

Mayor Buz Craft said he has signed approximately 2,500 checks to be sent out on at the beginning of the Christmas season.

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“We’re excited,” Craft said. “We’re sharing a little holiday cheer.”

Craft said he does not know the average amount on each check since the rebate is based on usage. Residences or businesses that use more energy, he said, receive a larger check.

Naturally, he said, businesses received on average a larger check than residents since businesses tend to use more energy.

The largest check was for $31,000 and went to a local business, Craft said.

Large industries that already receive a discount on energy prices, Craft said, were not included in the rebate.

The rebate stems from a longstanding contract signed with Sidney A. Murray Jr. Hydroelectric Station in which the town is obligated to purchase 6 percent of the power generated each month. In return, the city receives a royalty each quarter from the hydroelectric plant.

This year that royalty rate was 7.9 percent, though Craft said the royalty would rise to 10.4 percent in 2019 and to 20 percent in 2021.

Royalties for this year totaled approximately $11.8 million. Of that amount, only $1.2 million was left after the city paid power costs, replenished its reserve account and other expenditures laid out in city ordinance 588.

The ordinance stipulates the amount returned to customers cannot exceed half of the remaining amounts after these expenditures have been calculated, leaving approximately $600,000 for the rebate.

As the royalty increases, however, Craft said he hopes the rebate will also grow.

The maximum rebate a customer can receive is half of his or her electric bill for the year. With $600,000, Craft said no customer would likely hit the maximum. But as the royalties — and the rebates — grow, he said hitting the maximum repayment could become a reality.

“This will be a big windfall for the city,” Craft said.

Even this year’s rebate, he said, is the largest one yet for the town.

Craft said though the rebate is mandated by city ordinance 588 to be sent out yearly, the 2017 repayment is one of only a few in the years since the agreement was signed in 1990.

Last year, Craft said residents received a rebate in the form of credit toward their electric bills. Instead, Craft said he preferred to send out check.

“People like checks,” he said. “There’s something different about them.”

Craft said he would like to continue to send out rebates each year around Christmas, as was one of his campaign promises in running for mayor.