ALABAMA FARMERS FEDERATION APPLAUDS PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONERS FOR REDUCING PROPOSED RATE HIKE
MONTGOMERY, Ala., Oct. 7 - Alabama Farmers Federation today thanked the Public Service Commission for taking a strong stand for farmers and all Alabama Power Co., customers by negotiating a much lower rate hike than was originally sought by the utility.
"PSC President Jim Sullivan and Commissioners Jan Cook and Susan Parker understand that times are tough for homeowners, farmers and other small businesses," said Federation President Jerry A. Newby. "They realized the 15-25 percent rate increase sought by Alabama Power Co., would cause financial hardship for many families, and they stood firm with the Alabama Farmers Federation and other groups in seeking a more reasonable rate adjustment."
The Alabama Farmers Federation filed a motion to intervene in the Public Service Commission's hearing on a proposed rate hike from Alabama Power Co., saying the proposed rate increases could be "devastating" to farmers, especially poultry and catfish producers. Motions by the Federation and other industries prompted Alabama Power last month to scale back its proposed rate increases.
Further discussions between the utility and the PSC since the September meeting resulted in an even lower rate increase, which the PSC approved at its Oct. 7 meeting.
The approved plan includes an across-the-board 8.3 percent fuel charge for the average Alabama Power residential customer. The utility had originally requested a 14.6 percent increase for residential customers, a 24.8 percent increase for industrial users and a 16 percent hike for commercial businesses. In addition, Alabama Power agreed to forgo any additional rate increases until 2010.
The plan also increased the monthly connection fee for homes and apartments from $8.91 to $14.50 per meter, but Newby said the Public Service Commission granted an exemption for agriculture.
"Many of our farmers - especially poultry growers and catfish producers - have multiple meters," Newby said. "Often, every poultry house, barn, pond or workshop has a separate meter. The commissioners acknowledged that an additional per-meter service charge on these small businesses would be punitive and responded to the Federation's request to exempt agriculture.
"With farmers facing skyrocketing costs for fuel, fertilizer and feed, any rate increase for electricity will be a challenge," Newby added. "However, we appreciate the Public Service Commission and Alabama Power for hearing our concerns and working to minimize the impact of this rate increase on farmers and all Alabamians."