Geneva residents voicing electricity cost complaints

GENEVA- “Geneva residents are joining Batavians in complaining about the rising cost of electricity provided by their utility departments, and they are blaming it on the investment in the Prairie State Energy Campus.

‘My cost has increased by about 17 percent over the last two years, while ComEd has decreased,’ resident William Scown told the Geneva City Council Monday.

Scown said the cost per megawatt hour for Prairie State electricity is much higher than what was advertised when the city contracted for it, via its participation in a power cooperative, in 2007.

He said city officials were told the cost would be $46 per megawatt hour, according to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

The actual rate was $64.45, for June through December of 2013, according to the report by the institute, a nonprofit working to reduce coal-based electricity.

After Monday’s meeting, Mayor Kevin Burns said it was important to remember the investment in Prairie State is long-term…”

By Susan Sarkauskas, Daily Herald

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High Electric Bills Getting Chilly Reception

PADUCAH, KY – “If you experienced a moment of sheer terror as you opened your latest electric bill, you’re not alone.

An unusually cold December, along with recent rate hikes have left some local folks with unusually high bills. With many people still reeling financially after the holidays, the added cost of keeping the lights on may be a particularly unwelcome burden this time of year. Paducah Power System Director of Community Relations & Marketing Andrea Underwood said the utility has been receiving calls from concerned residents who are wondering how they are going to make ends meet with such high electricity costs.

‘We have had some calls from customers who are reporting a higher than usual bill, and the billing cycles vary throughout the month,” Underwood said. “The folks who seem to have the highest bills are the ones who’s billing cycles began at the beginning of December and ended at the end of December.’”

By Tim Brockwell, West Kentucky Star

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Electric bill hike approved in Naperville

NAPERVILLE – “Electric bills in Naperville are going up about $5 a month for the average homeowner starting May 1 and another $6 next spring.

The City Council narrowly approved a 6 percent rate hike followed by a 7 percent increase to help fill a $14 million deficit in the city’s electric budget. However, that still leaves the city with a $5.2 million shortfall two years from now and no reserve.

‘It doesn’t allow us to regain all the money after year two but it makes a pretty big dent on it,’ Councilman Steve Chirico said.

The city had initially planned to increase rates 2 percent this year, but realized in the fall it would have a budget deficit that officials attribute to a variety of factors.

Naperville purchases power from the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, of which it is a member along with 31 other municipalities and one co-op. There was a significant cost overrun in the construction of one of the IMEA’s investments, the Prairie State Energy Campus in southern Illinois, which city officials cite as part of the reason rates are now going up even higher….”

By Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune

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BPW Board considering rate hikes

HANNIBAL, MO – “It may have been April Fool’s Day, but the Hannibal Board of Public Works Board was not joking when it came time to consider utility rate hikes during a special work session on Tuesday in the BPW conference room.

It may have been April Fool’s Day, but the Hannibal Board of Public Works Board was not joking when it came time to consider utility rate hikes during a special work session on Tuesday in the BPW conference room….

‘If we do not raise rates it would not be a good thing,’ said Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW.

Stevenson acknowledged that the Prairie State coal-fired power plant, in which the city owns a share, is still a ‘drag on the Electric Fund.’ In a memo to the Board, Stevenson wrote that the BPW’s ‘patience (in Prairie State) will pay off in future as this drag becomes relatively less each year.’

Ratepayers will have a chance to sound off. Before rate increases can be implemented a public hearing must be held. If adopted, the increases would continue an upward spiral. On July 1, 2013, electric (3 percent), water (4 percent) and sewer (4 percent) rates all went up. This would be the third consecutive year that electric rates have increased….”

By Danny Henley, Hannibal Courier Post

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Paducah Power Customers See Higher Bills with Cold Weather, Limited Supply

PADUCAH, KY – “Paducah Power System customers are facing a financial double whammy of cold temperatures and a limited power supply that’s costing them upwards of an extra $100 for one month.

PPS is one of many shareholders of power supplier Prairie State Energy in Illinois, which couldn’t meet customers demand during the arctic winter. To meet that demand PPS had to purchase more power on the open market which is considerably more expensive….

PPS will raise the base rate by 5 percent in April. Underwood said, the PCA will be determined at the next board meeting but is not anticipating it to go up.”

By Lance Dennee, WKMS 91.3 

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Electricity bills may go up because of bad weather

Utility departments in at least three areas say the cold weather jacked up their electric bills.

via Electricity bills may go up because of bad weather.

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by Justin Ward, WBDJ 7

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Naperville electricity situation a real mess

NAPERVILLE, IL – “When I last commented on our electricity rates, and our participation in the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, I wrote that ‘Naperville officials are still comfortable with their decision, and most of the establishment still believes that it will work out in the long run.’ Somehow, many readers got the impression that I too think that, in the long run, it was the right decision.

No, I do not. When Peabody Energy convinced all those municipalities, including us, to become defacto owners of the Prairie State coal plant they made cost and supply projections that did not, and I think they knew could not, come to pass.

Recently, Illinois State Rep. Timothy Schmitz (R-Batavia) has written Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, requesting that she investigate “possible fraud or misrepresentation by Peabody Energy that led to several municipalities in Illinois investing in the Prairie State Energy Campus.” I strongly believe our representatives should do the same….

And no, I don’t like being forced to fund global warming, water pollution, clear cutting the Shawnee National Forest, and destroying farming communities. It is not “fiscally responsible” to overpay for electricity and remain part of the IMEA because somebody took advantage of us. It is stupid.”

By Bill Mego, Naperville Sun

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Power rates to rise

MARTINSVILLE, VA – “Martinsville Electric Department customers will be paying more for power beginning May 1.

Martinsville City Council on Tuesday approved a rate hike on a 4-1 vote….

The city had to buy the extra electricity on the wholesale market instead of from its regular source, American Municipal Power, at inflated prices due to heavy demand by many other localities and utilities that were in the same situation as Martinsville, officials have said. Also, the city had to pay higher fees to get the power sent to Martinsville over the regional electric grid, which got clogged due to the high demand, according to City Manager Leon Towarnicki.”

By Mickey Powell, Martinsville Bulletin

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Illinois Residents Fight Back Against The State’s Coal Industry

“On Wednesday, residents of Saline County in southern Illinois presented the Illinois Environmental Agency and the state’s attorney general with a 5,000 signature petition in an attempt to put the brakes on coal-mining in their community. They say the mine — Peabody’s Cottage Grove Strip Mine — is polluting the air and water and want these claims to be investigated. They are also calling for a probe into the Illinois Department of Natural Resources issuing of permits.

As reported by Al Jazeera America, coal mining has increased by seventy percent in Illinois over the past five years, despite the state’s other promising moves towards cleaner energy. Much of the new coal mining is in southern Illinois…

The coal from the new mine will help feed Peabody’s embattled Prairie State coal-fired power plant in southern Illinois.

As the Chicago Tribune reported in September, back in 2007, 217 municipalities and 17 electric membership cooperatives across the Midwest, committed themselves to 28-year contracts to purchase power from the plant which began operating in 2012….

The Prairie State power plant is currently part of a federal investigation into fraud allegations.”

by Joanna Foster, Climate Progress

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Dirty coal rush taints Illinois’ clean energy campaign

ILLINOIS- “The state’s hypocritical energy push has reached a tipping point. On March 7, with the fanfare of an election campaign event, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and environmental organizations hailed 91 communities in the Prairie State that now purchase 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources…

Unfortunately, it’s only half true….

Last spring, in fact, Quinn announced his state’s record fivefold increase in coal exports, en route to CO2-spewing coal-fired plants abroad, just as climate scientists were noting that our planet had reached the alarming 400 parts-per-million milestone of CO2 emissions for the first time in millions of years. A subsequent study found that the state of Illinois loses nearly $20 million annually (PDF) to maintain the coal industry.In that same climate-tone-deaf mode, this month’s clean energy proclamation came as a Chicago Tribune headline noted how hundreds of communities across the heartland are outraged at being locked into a nearly three-decade commitment to Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, which built and, in 2012, began operating its Prairie State coal-fired plant in southern Illinois. With massive cost overruns that have saddled 217 municipalities and 17 electric membership cooperatives across the Midwest with spiking electricity rates, the plant has since been embroiled in federal investigations over fraud.”