Utility Hike Proposed
Columbia Water and Light signed a three-year contract with Ameren energy services and it's more expensive than years past. The contract shows a $13 million increase over the next three years. Water and Light hired independent consultants to adjust rates to fit the higher cost of power.
The average electric bill for a Columbia resident is around $70. If the rate increase happens, those bills would increase by 9 percent in 2008, 12.5 percent in 2009, and 4.5 percent in 2010 and 2011. That brings the average bill to $93.74 by 2011, a $23.74 increase from this year.
The increase isn't unique to Columbia; the rest of the country is seeing rising costs as well.
"These new cost increases are due to the impact of the new marketplace, and the new costs for power... Which are going up," said Dan Dasho, Water and Light director. "Additionally, in the future we expect the costs to continue to go up as new power plants, which are more expensive than the power plants we have online today, are added to the system. And we're going to have to pay as well."
Although you might shell out more cash for utilities, Columbia Water and Light says there are still ways to save.
"What these rates are telling you is that you need to do as much as you can to conserve and be efficient with your energy. That'll save you money," said Dasho.
Water and Light gave several ideas to save money on electricity. First, you can change incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent; they cost a few dollars more but use less power. It also suggests keeping all vents clean and clear of objects and only running dish washers and washing machines with full loads.
Columbia Water and Light will take the proposal to a City Council meeting for approval in August. If the council approves, the increases will start in 2008.