Savannah Electric Seeks Base Rate Increase - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/30/04

Savannah Electric Seeks Base Rate Increase

Rate hike coming? Rate hike coming?

Your electric bills may be going up during the New Year. For the first time since 2001, Savannah Electric has filed for a base rate increase. They asked the Georgia Public Service Commission for an increase of almost nine percent.

Earlier this month, they passed along a 13.5 percent fuel cost increase customers.

Over the next six months, they'll hold several public hearings so you can have your say.

Savannah Electric says the base rate increase will pay for additional infrastructure resulting from all the growth in our area. "This is the building, the people, the lines, that type of thing," said the company's Swan Seiler. "We haven't had a base increase since 2001, and because of the growth here, we need it. We have had 9,000 new customers since then and we need to file for this increase."

Here's how it breaks down: if your bill is $100, it would go up about $8. Remember this increase won't take effect until next June if the PSC passes it.

Just the thought of an increase makes most people unhappy. Especially small business owners. WTOC with some of them along with residents today. They are worried about how much it will cost them, because right now, it seems like the price of everything is going up.

It's a Christmas wonderland at the Lodge household in Savannah. With a flip of a few switches, the holidays come to life, moving and lighting up inside and out, wires pumping electricity everywhere.

"When people drive by and smile and wave, it just makes you happy," said Debbie Lodge.

With all these decorations, the thought of an almost nine percent rate increase scares the lodges. "Last year, my electric bill was about 600," Lodge told us.

But the Lodges say they will never let the Grinch steal their Christmas spirit. "I would never cut down, I will just turn it off early. But not cut down."

Small businesses like Bits, Bytes and Coffee on Broughton Street also say this will take a bite out of their business. "If it's $50 here, $50 there it's just hard on the small business owner," said owner Pam Golden.

Every bit of her internet cafe business requires electricity. "I have my lights going on all the time, my refrigerator going all the time, and I never turn the espresso machine off," she said.

And she will never stop serving up a good, decently priced cup of coffee, because it would end up pinching her in the pocket even worse. "I can't just go up on my products, because that would hurt my business, so it's hard, hard to maintain it."

And remember it would take about six months for this to go into effect, and when there is a public meeting, we will let you know.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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