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Electric rates expected to drop for borough customers

April 27, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Effective next week, Chambersburg electric customers will be charged a little less money for power after the Borough Council approved new rates Monday.

For the average household using approximately 700 kilowatt hours of electricity each month, the cost will decrease about $6.50 to $48.20, or about 12 percent, Oyer said. Those with homes that have electric heat and use an average of 1,200 kilowatt hours will see their monthly bills decrease from $93.93 to $82.62, Oyer said.

The price break comes after customers saw electric bills rise sharply in 2003, Oyer said. He said several factors have combined to reduce the rates the 10,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers pay.

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One is a purchase supply adjustment that allows the borough greater flexibility as to when and from what source it will purchase power. The borough also increased its generating capacity to 30 megawatts with the addition of a second power plant that went on line last year.

"On an hour-to-hour basis, we make decisions on where we're going to buy power; to generate or not to generate," he said.

When the council discussed the proposed rates at its March 29 meeting, consultant David Downes said the borough's cost of purchasing electricity on the wholesale market rose from $10.2 million in 2000 to $12.2 million in 2003. This year, he estimated the cost would once again fall to about $10.2 million.

In addition to being able to supply 60 percent of it power requirements in case of a major power grid failure like the one in the Northeast last summer, the borough's generating capacity allows the borough to sell power on the open market.

The rates include a load curtailment rider, an incentive program to lower costs to the borough's biggest commercial and industrial users. Industries that enroll in the program would reduce the borough's cost of purchasing electricity by using less energy during peak hours when it is most expensive, with the savings being passed on to those customers.

Chambersburg is the only municipality in Pennsylvania that has its own power generating and distribution system, Oyer said.

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