New industry could mean lower power bills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc. is looking to bring new industry to the community in order to keep consumer power costs stable in upcoming years.

The management of the cooperative held a meeting with city and county officials Monday night to follow up a meeting two weeks ago in which consumers expressed confusion and displeasure with utility costs.

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Officials were asked to petition state legislators for help in drawing industrial consumers to the area, who would in turn generate more revenue for the cooperative and keep overall costs spread across a wider base.

The cooperative also asked for support in requesting an extension of an $855,760 federal grant that is currently being used to provide insulation and heat pumps to fixed- and low-income customers. They collectively have the highest bill averages of residential consumers, but the least ability to pay.

Harmon presented a report at the meeting that indicated the number of consumers per mile of line is decreasing.

Harmon said more meters per mile would equal lower costs for consumers. Industrial sites would help to stabilize and potentially lower rates because the cost of the electricity required to serve an industrial customer would carry a large portion of the total operating cost for that particular service line.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative serves as an electricity provider to areas that, because of their rural nature, are said to be non-profitable to larger, private utility companies.

Any rise in operating costs is shared equally by all members.

Where other companies in the electric utility industry serve a mix of residential, commercial and industrial consumers, the Pioneer Electric consumer base is 96 percent residential, placing the bulk of operating costs on homeowners and renters.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative’s Selma-based service area covers Butler, Lowndes, Dallas and Wilcox counties, areas which have median income rates lower than state and national averages and unemployment rates higher than state and national averages.