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Electric bills to increase by 30 percent

November 15, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The borough's residential electric customers will see their rates jump 30 percent in 2003.

That's due to a new power supply contract that goes into effect Dec. 1, and the cost of the nearly $20 million power plant under construction in the Chambers-5 Business Park.

"For the average residential customer, 2003 energy costs will go up over 30 percent from this year," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

Oyer reminds customers they saw about a 15 percent drop in rates in 2002 because of a special one-year arrangement with Allegheny Energy.

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After 2003, customers should see some decline in rates because the borough's new 23-megawatt generating facility will be up and running, he said.

The borough spent months ironing out the five-year contract with Detroit Edison for wholesale power. Officials said it was the best contract it could negotiate, and it ends a 60-year relationship with Allegheny Energy, whose contract with the borough expires at the end of the month.

"This has been an extensive process of proposals and negotiating a final agreement," Oyer said. "We're locking in fixed-energy prices. The contract gives us considerable stability."

Borough Council members unanimously approved the power contract with Detroit Edison at their meeting Tuesday.

Electric Superintendent Richard Hamsher said the cost of the new facility only accounts for about 2 percent of the overall rate increase.

Hamsher said if a customer has an average $100 bill per month this year, that will increase to $130 next year.

That increase drops off to about 16 percent by the end of the five-year contract, he said.

Oyer said he has not done a comparison of the borough's expected new rates with the surrounding townships that are served by commercial electric companies.

The borough has operated its own electric department for 103 years, and it currently has a seven-megawatt generating station to help out in times of peak use.

The borough broke ground on the new power plant in September. The 23-megawatt facility will allow the borough to buy less electricity from a wholesaler and become more self-sufficient.

The borough's electric department serves about 10,300 customers.

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