Monmouth P&L customers will see small rate decrease

MONMOUTH -- In a time of tightening budgets and increasing taxes, Monmouth residents have been given a seldom seen break, albeit a small one.At its June 4 meeting, the Monmouth City Council approved a 3 percent electric utility rate decrease, giving an average home as much as $45 in savings per year depending on usage.The decrease will be retroactively implemented to May 15, affecting residents' current billings.The city determined that the power and light fund is more than covering its capital, debt and operating services, as well as maintaining significant reserves.As proposed in the 2013-14 budget, the fund would end the fiscal year with a 43 percent reserve even with the rate decrease."The sweet spot you're trying to hit is having enough money to operate the system properly and having a nice reserve," Monmouth City Manager Scott McClure said. "We need enough money to run things properly, but we don't need to be just generating profits because we aren't a for-profit business."The city found itself in the peculiar position of having too much reserves in the power and light fund through a combination of a settlement with Bonneville Power Administration and rate reductions.Talk of a rate decrease came up in January when budget discussions began for the new fiscal year. Upcoming projects, current needs and contingencies were factored and more-than-sufficient reserves were still expected."We've really got enough for those things and there's still a nice reserve," McClure said. "I kind of wrestled myself. I kept coming back ... we don't need that much."With the rate decrease, large businesses could see up to $3,420 in annual savings while small businesses could see around $70, according to city reports.Monmouth Power & Light provides power for Ash Creek Elementary, Talmadge Middle School and Central High School, providing Central School District with immediate savings.McClure estimates the power and light fund's reserves are robust enough to support unforeseen expenses -- rate increases from BPA or emergency projects -- to sustain the rate decrease for a few years to come."No one is sure that we've ever done a rate decrease, which is not really normal anywhere," McClure said. "What a good thing to do for the community to be able to lower everybody's power (costs)."


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