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Mayor forms committee to study utilities
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A special committee has been formed by Covington Mayor Sam Ramsey to examine possibilities for alleviating the financial strain on Covington residents who struggle to pay their utility bills.

At Monday night's city council meeting, Ramsey brought forward the idea of forming a committee to find out if there were a legal way for the city of Covington to put in place a program similar to that of Snapping Shoals EMC's Operation Round Up program.

"I see a great need for people for help with utilities," Ramsey said.

City Council members Mike Whatley and Ocie Franklin along with City Manager Steve Horton and City Attorney Ed Crudup will sit on the committee.

 Ramsey commented that the higher cost of energy purchased from the market as well as the increase of fuel for the powering of energy plants has necessitated that the city pass on some of that increased cost to its customer base.

Energy bills are particularly expensive for Covington residents during the summer months, when the demand for electricity is at its highest.

According to information provided by the Georgia Public Service Commission, utility rates in Covington in June 2006 were $51 for 500 kilowatts, $104 for 1,000 kWh, $162 for 1,500 kWh and $220 for 2,000 kWh

Snapping Shoals' Operation Round Up program works by rounding up to the next highest dollar amount the electric bills of participating consumers. According to Snapping Shoal's Web-site, the extra change collected, which varies from a penny to 99 cents a month goes into the Operation Round Up account.

According to the Web-site, a majority of Snapping Shoals customers participate in the program. Through the small monthly contributions of all the participants, Operation Round Up is able to distribute funds directly to people in need of assistance or to qualifying charitable organizations.

Additionally, the program serves people in need in the areas served by Snapping Shoals. Decisions on the distribution of funds are made by the Snapping Shoals Electric Trust Board of Directors.