Electricity bills to gradually increase

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield City Council approved an electricity rate increase Wednesday night, voting to phase the increase in over the next 13 months.

The city-owned utility, which serves some 11,000 customers daily, hasn’t increased rates since 2010.

The increase goes into effect Jan. 1.

The increase raises the base charge for Greenfield Power & Light electricity services from $10 to $15. The average residential bill will increase by about $6 a month by 2019, Greenfield utilities director Mike Fruth told the city council.

The base charge first bumps to $12.50 on Jan. 1. The charge rises to $15 in 2019. The gradual increase will help residents who live on fixed incomes plan for higher bills over time, said council president Gary McDaniel.

The rate adjustment also includes an increase in charges for the amount of electricity customers consume. Next year, customers will be charged 0.4 cents more per kilowatt hour.

There are no plans to fund a major project, but city leaders say the expenses associated with supplying power to residents and industries have risen over the years while electric rates have remained the same.

City officials say even with the rate increase, Greenfield bills will average about 15 to 30 percent lower than other area providers and remain among the lowest of Indiana Municipal Power Agency customers.

Wednesday night, resident Joe Smith addressed the council, commending the city’s electric service and the low rates but asked what the increase will support.

“What are the citizens going to get?” he asked.

Mayor Chuck Fewell said supplying power — and quality customer service — to Greenfield residents isn’t cheap for the city. Purchasing wholesale power that is passed on to Greenfield customers costs the utility about $2.5 million a month, for example.

On top of that expense, the department is responsible for maintaining the equipment that delivers electricity to those 11,000 homes and businesses and employing the 23 power and light and seven customer service employees who keep the systems running round the clock.

Nobody likes to see their bills increase, but sometimes adjustments are necessary, Fewell said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.