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City water rate up, power costs down
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The Covington City Council voted to raise city water rates Monday night, but is also trying to hold the line on customer's electricity bills. The result could be essentially a break even for customers.

Covington buys its water from the county and then sells that water to city customers. The county is expected to raise its wholesale water rate for the second straight year, this time by 22.5 cents per 1,000 gallons, so the city will once again pass those increases on to its customers.

The council voted 4-3 in favor of raising the rate beginning July 1, with Mayor Kim Carter breaking the tie. The city is expected to pay an additional $240,000 for water next fiscal year, and Carter said she felt the city couldn't afford to absorb those costs. Council members Keith Dalton, Chris Smith and Hawnethia Williams voted in opposition to the raise.

The rates will change thusly:
- base rate for the first 3,000 gallons, from $15.18 to $16
- rate per 1,000 gallons between 3,001 and 50,000 gallons, from $4.84 to $5.15
- rate per 1,000 gallons above $50,000, from $5.04 to $5.35

A customer who uses 6,000 gallons - a rough average usage estimate - will pay an additional $1.75 per month.

In other utility news, the council is going to absorb some electricity costs in an effort to help consumers with their bills as the weather warms.

Covington overpaid for electricity this year, and, as a result, will receive a reimbursement of $741,372 from its power provider Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

Normally, that money would be reinvested into future electricity costs, such as future infrastructure, but the council voted Monday to instead use that money to absorb power costs.

While the city's electricity rate is not changing, its Product Cost Adjustment (PCA) will be affected. The PCA automatically charges customers when the market price of power increases. Covington will use the $741,372 to pay down this extra PCA cost.

The council previously approved paying an additional $2.3 million to also lower electricity costs. That amount was expected to lower an average customer's bill by $5.63 per month. In proportion, this newest vote could save customers an additional $1.71 per month; however, this is just an estimate created by The News.