So how much more would a typical monthly bill be?
“About $8 or less than the price of a pizza.”
SMUD’s Elisabeth Brinton says the average residential bill would go up from $78.88 to $86.22. Why the need to raise rates?
“SMUD like any other business is impacted by the volatility in the economy.”
Brinton says they need to make up for a drop in power usage by businesses, higher costs for natural gas to run power plants, state requirements for renewable energy and borrowing costs.
“These are challenging times for everybody and that’s one of the reasons this is a two-step rate process.”
The first step being a 9.5% rate increase on September 1st, the second being a 3.5% hike in January of 2011.
The utility plans to hold a series of community meetings about the rate hike before the SMUD board votes on the increase in June. And Mindy Spatt with the Utility Reform Network – a watchdog group – says that’s a good thing.
“It’s an opportunity for consumers to find out whether this is really justified and whether there are other things SMUD can do to cut costs.”
SMUD’s Board of Directors will start taking public input on the plan tonight.