Seaford City Council approves an increase in electric rates

By Lynn R. Parks

New electric rates in the city of Seaford won't mean any additional money for the city, according to city manager Dolores Slatcher. The rates, approved by the city council Tuesday night, are 'revenue neutral,' Slatcher said. Instead, the rates will help to ensure that customers who aren't using much electricity are still contributing to the costs of the system's infrastructure and upkeep. The adjustments will mean that 'everybody's paying their fair share,' Slatcher said. The basic customer charge has been bumped up in four of the city's six customer classes and the amount of the minimum bill has gone up in two of those classes.
Changes are effective Jan. 1 and will be reflected in the February bills.
Slatcher said that households that use small amounts of power will see the biggest change. A residential customer who uses around 800 kilowatt hours of power a month will see an increase in his monthly bill of about $2.
Winter bills for residential customers using larger amounts of electricity will also go up. But in the summer months, those bills will likely go down, because the city will no longer charge a higher amount for summer usage over 750 kilowatt hours. Before January, that amount jumped from 13.1140 cents in the winter to 15.2232 cents in the summer. Now, it will hold steady at 13.1140 cents.
The city council also voted not to pass on savings in the wholesale cost of power to consumers. Instead, those savings will be put into a restricted reserve account to use for improvements to the electrical system, including the replacement of the Pine Street substation. (See related story, page 4.)

Slatcher said that those savings will add up to about $227,000 a year. The city currently collects money based on an $82.72 per megawatt hour wholesale charge. Its new wholesale rate is $80.04 per megawatt hour.
The city council's vote to adjust its charges for electricity followed a presentation on Jan. 25 by representatives of the engineering firm Downes Associates, Salisbury, which recommended the changes.
Seaford resident Dan Cannon spoke during the public comment session of Tuesday night's meeting. Even though he addressed the council before it had voted to change the electric rates, he anticipated that vote in his comments.
'My most recent utility bill, I paid an effective electricity rate of 16.3 cents per kilowatt hour, at or near the highest rate in the state,' he said. 'Tonight, you will raise the residential rates so that this bill would have cost me 16.7 cents per kilowatt hour, further exacerbating the problem.'
How it breaks down
Amounts that the city of Seaford charges for electricity are changing effective with this month's bill.
The basic residential customer charge is going up from $6.50 a month to $8. The amount for the first 45 kilowatt hours is going from 15.2232 cents to 16 cents and the amount for the next 705 kilowatt hours is going up from 15.2232 cents to 15.2817 cents.
Each additional kilowatt hour of power will cost 13.1140 cents. This is the same as the city's previous winter rate. There will not be a summer rate.
The city has five other classes of customers, including commercial and large general service. Basic customer charges in three of those classes will go up; they will remain steady in the other two classes. Charges per kilowatt hour will change slightly in some classes.

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