12/09/09 — Fremont electric rate to go up 4 percent

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Fremont electric rate to go up 4 percent

By Laura Collins
Published in News on December 9, 2009 1:46 PM

Beginning in January, Fremont residents will see a 4-percent increase in their electric rates.

The Fremont Town Board narrowly approved the increase at its meeting Tuesday night.

Aldermen Al Lewis, Annie Lewis and Leon Mooring voted in favor of the increase, and Harold Cuddington, Leroy Ruffin and W.T. Smith voted against the increase. Mayor Devone Jones broke the tie by voting for it.

"It's basically passing on the 4- percent rate increase we got from ElectriCities earlier this year," Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said.

McDuffie said the town is losing about $7,000 a month on electricity, the difference between the amount it is collecting from the town and the amount it is paying its electricity provider, ElectriCities.

McDuffie attributed the gap to a 4-percent increase in the cost of electricity instituted last February by ElectriCities.

At November's board meeting, McDuffie suggested restructuring the utility rates rather than imposing a 4-percent increase across the board.

The town board will actually do both. They increased the electric rate by 4 percent to stop the $7,000 a month deficit, but they are also forming a committee to restructure the electric rates.

McDuffie said the restructuring will help them to not lose money and also give aldermen a chance to reconsider the rate structure.

During the vote, Ruffin suggested adding a two-year cap to the electric rate increase. Only board member Al Lewis voted in favor of the proposal.

Ruffin said he doesn't think the rate increase will be long term. Eventually, he said, he expects improvements to the town's sewer system to start paying back money to the town's electric fund that was previously loaned to its sewer fund.