Electric rates increase seven percent in city

By Bryant L. Richardson

Seaford's City Council last Tuesday approved an electric rate increase averaging seven and one-half percent. Councilman Larry Miller said the increase in fuel costs have hurt the city. He said a year ago Seaford was fortunate to still be under contract and actually was able to provide a rate reduction. He noted that decisions made in the Middle East are affecting the city's fuel costs. The percentage of increase is as follows:
n Residential up 6.00%
n Commercial up 8.90%
n Industrial up 8.00%
Miller was quick to point out that when you take into consideration the rate decrease from last year, the rates, in effect, are increasing only one percent over the level of two years ago. Even with the rate increase, Miller emphasized, "We will be competitive." City Manager Dolores Slatcher said the increase will help the city move back into a more positive cash flow position and will enable the city to set aside "a little" money for future improvements at the city's power plant. Miller, who said the city is committed to expansion of its electric capacity, made the motion for the rate increase, which passed unanimously. The rate increases will bring the city an additional $157,430 in residential electric rate revenues, $130,013 in commercial revenues and $303,324 in industrial revenues for a total of $590,767. The city collects 33.3 percent of its electric revenues from residential customers, 18.6 percent from commercial customers and 48.1 percent from industrial customers. Total electric revenues for 2000 were $7,876,901.

The city council last Tuesday also voted to accept the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC) Power Contract Resolution. Nine Delaware cities have joined in a project to construct a 45 megawatt generating facility in the Smyrna Industrial Park. Dave Thomas, power manager for the City of Seaford, said the project has been in process for more than a year now. Each of the cities in DEMEC has an ownership in the generating capacity depending on the amount paid into the organization. Thomas said Seaford's share in the project is 7.1 percent. "It is not the primary intent of this generating facility to generate just for these municipalities," Thomas said. He said the generating facility also will be used as a means of generating power to the electrical grid. There will be revenues generated from the use of this unit, he said. Dolores Slatcher said the city so far has committed $281,000 to the project. Last Tuesday she said most of this money has been spent and she asked to council to increase the amount of the city's investment. A motion by Councilman Miller was approved by the council. Thomas said the generating facility project is about to go into the construction phase and the facility could be completed by the end of the year. He said the generator will only operate when it is economically attractive to run for the sale of electricity, or when there are problems on the power grid.

In other business the council voted to approve a truck route ordinance. Signs will be posted along truck routes in the city and enforcement of speeding and noise violations will begin. Police at first will be informing and warning violators, but eventually repeat offenders will be fined. The ordinance allows the city to proceed with enforcement measures to help reduce the problems with truck traffic.

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