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How high are city residents' electric bills?
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During the summer months Covington residents, who use large quantities of electricity, consequently pay one of the highest electric rates in the state.

Whether there is anything to be done about it has become a major campaign point for Covington mayoral candidate Kim Carter.

According to a survey of all electric providers in Georgia by the Georgia Public Service Commission, during the 2006 summer months out of 94 electrical providers, the city of Covington had the third most expensive electricity rate in the state for residents consuming 2,000 kilowatts hours in a month.

The Georgia Public Service Commission works to ensure that consumers receive reliable and reasonably priced services.

 The commission runs the electricity rate study twice a year. The rates for January and June are used in the study. The electric providers are ranked by their rates for 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 2,000 kWh. The rankings were done from the least expensive to the most expensive.

In June 2006, Covington was ranked 42 out of 85 for its pricing of 500 kWh. The city was ranked 71 out of 91 in the 1,000 kWh category, 83 out of 90 in the 1,500 kWh category and 92 out of 94 in the 2,000 kWh category.

Utility rates in June were $51 for 500 kWh, $104 for 1,000 kWh, $162 for 1,500 kWh and $220 for 2,000 kWh

In January 2007 Covington was ranked 27 out of 87 in the 500 kWh category, 48 out of 94 in the 1,000 kWh category, 40 out of 92 in the 1,500 kWh category and 40 out of 91 in the 2,000 kWh.

Utility rates in Covington in January were $46 for 500 kWh, $90 for 1,000 kWh, $123 for 1,500 kWh and $157 for 2,000 kWh.

It should be noted the city of Mansfield had the most expensive electricity rates across the board in the state in January. Mansfield's rates were similarly high-ranking in June.

To view the results of the study visit:

Several factors make it difficult to determine the average kWh consumption of a Covington household due to varying consumption patterns and varying house square footage. However at the request of The News, Bill Meecham, utility director for the city of Covington said that an average usage of 600 kWh in the winter months and 1,400 kWh in the summer months would be a good estimation.

Based on those figures, Meecham estimated that during the winter months of October through May, customers could expect to pay around $56 a month and $129 a month during the summer months of June through September

Meecham added that an electric heat customer would use more electricity and have a higher bill in the winter but would not have a gas bill.

The Covington City Council has not raised its electricity rates since 2001, said Meecham, but the purchased commodity adjustment on top of the rate has risen due to the city's need to buy additional power from the market especially in the summer months when demand is at its highest.

According to a recent memo from Meecham to City Manager Steve Horton, Covington is presently short on both capacity and energy resources. The city is currently purchasing reserve capacity from the city of LaGrange and is purchasing about 30 percent of its energy requirements from outside sources at market energy prices.

The memo states that as the market cost of energy can be volatile and unstable, the large amount of energy currently being purchased by Covington is a cost risk to the city and its customers.

Covington, Mansfield and Oxford are all members of the Municipal Electric Authority. MEAG is a public corporation which provides power to 49 Georgia communities who in turn provide power to approximately 600,000 residents. Member communities can set their own rates.