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Mississippi Power considers rate increase

By Staff
POWER SURGE Wilma Earvin, senior customer service representative at Mississippi Power's Meridian office, takes a payment from a customer Wednesday. Mississippi Power is considering seeking a rate increase of almost 10 percent for commercial and residential power users. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 19, 2001
Mississippi Power Co. is considering almost a 10 percent increase in electric rates to help cover the rising cost of providing electricity and fund new power plants in Jackson County.
Mississippi Power spokesman Kurt Brautigam said Wednesday that the company has not filed a rate increase proposal with the state Public Service Commission, the agency that regulates power companies and approves their rates.
Although Brautigam couldn't estimate average electric bills for businesses and residents, he said residential service for 1,000 kilowatt-hours costs about $80 a month. A 10 percent increase would raise that price to $88 a month.
Electric companies measure service in kilowatt-hours, which is the amount of electrical energy consumed when 1,000 watts are used in one hour.
Cochran aware of rate plan
Central District Public Service Commissioner Nielson Cochran said he received a courtesy call Tuesday from a Mississippi Power representative who told him the company was anticipating filing a rate increase proposal.
Cochran, whose district includes Meridian, said it would be "inappropriate to comment on a case before it's been filed or heard." He added that commissioners will "wait and do our job as regulators."
Southern District Public Service Commissioner Michael Callahan said he was unaware that Mississippi Power was considering an increase. Callahan's district includes areas south of the Clarke-Lauderdale county line.
Before commissioners grant a rate increase, Callahan said, the PSC's public utilities staff completes a detailed investigation. After the staff presents its findings, the commission holds a public hearing and then approves or denies the request.
Increase could start next year
Brautigam said the rate increase could take effect in January if approved by the PSC. He said the increase would be the company's first since a 1 percent increase in 1996.
Brautigam said Mississippi Power representatives already have been talking with some of their larger customers about the possible increase. The company plans to provide more information probably at the first of next week, he said.
The two new plants are both in Jackson County and cost a total of $400 million; one went online in April and the other in May.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.