Roseville Electric proposes rate hikes

By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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After announcing a projected $12 million deficit in May, Roseville Electric is now proposing rate adjustments to stave off a potential $98 million shortfall by 2014. A series of community meetings were held earlier this week to provide information about the utility's financial forecast and the proposed increases that residents would face in the next two years. Roseville Electric will present the rate increases to the Roseville City Council in September for approval. If passed, residents will see their bill increase almost 20 percent over the course of a year beginning Jan. 1, 2010. Three 6.2 percent increases will be added to residents’ bills every six months, the last one being added Jan. 1, 2011. “No one wants rate increases, but what can you do?” said Sun City Roseville resident Wally Barr. “We’ll try to conserve as much as we can, and we’ll be paying more but for the most part (Roseville Electric) has really done a good job for us.” The average family using 950 kilowatt hours can expect to see their bill increase by about $22.62 overall with their final bill reaching nearly $140 by January 2011 according to a report presented by Tom Green, assistant electric utility director for Roseville Electric. In attendance at last Wednesday’s community meeting was Irwin Herman, a Roseville resident who had previously lived in San Leandro. Herman said he continues to be surprised by Roseville’s electric rates and how they compared to his bills from the Bay Area. “They are still significantly lower even with our air conditioner, but no one likes rate increases,” Herman said. “It’s hard to ask for more money, just as hard as it is to give more money.” A small business currently paying $136 will begin paying $144 on Jan. 1, 2010. By 2011 that monthly bill will increase to $162. The waning economy, volatile market prices and dry weather have all taken a toll on Roseville Electric’s finances. Coming down the road are additional fees involved with environmental compliance regulations handed down from the state Green said. To offset costs associated with environmental legislation Roseville Electric staff is recommending changing the Climate Change Mitigation Fee to an Environmental Compliance Rate. The $.005 charge per kilowatt hour would provide funds allowing Roseville Electric to meet regulations handed down from the state to reduce its impact on the environment. “There are a significant amount of unknown costs involved with environmental compliance,” Green said. “This (fund) will hedge against those and hopefully cover a significant amount.” Roseville Electric last increased their rates in 2008 with an overall hike of 12 percent. “We feel that this is the necessary, appropriate and prudent step to take,” Green said. “We make a five-year projection and this proposal is intended for fiscal viability in the long term.” Residents are invited to attend the Public Utilities Commission meeting to learn more about these increases and speak to decision makers. 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 28 at the city council chambers, 311 Vernon St.