Berlin Customers See Electric Changes

BERLIN – Beginning with the current electric bill, town of Berlin electric customers will see a $1.50 credit every month as part of a greenhouse gas reduction reward.

Each electric account will save $18 a year through the greenhouse gas program.

Town of Berlin electric customers have also been enjoying lower rates since April after the town entered a new power supply contract with Florida Power and Light (FPL). The contract offered a low introductory rate for the first two months of 15 cents per kilowatt hour, a sharp reduction from the 20 cents per kilowatt hour customers paid last summer.

Beginning in June, electric customers will pay 16.5 cents per kilowatt hour, said Dwight Davis of electric consultants Booth and Associates, during an update on town electric operations at Monday night’s town council meeting. That price will prevail for 12 months.

That rate would be about 5-percent higher than current Delmarva Power and Light rates, Davis said.

In June 2010, customers will see another increase, as outlined in the FPL contract, to 17 cents per kilowatt hour.

“The company is expecting that energy costs will go up over time,” said Davis.

The recent FPL power contract is intended to eliminate the volatility of the month-to-month contracts used in recent years.

While base rates are set by the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), the higher previous power costs are reflected on current bills, said Davis. “We will have some higher power costs,” said Davis, to deal with higher costs incurred last summer.

Davis said the consultants are also looking into restructuring the base electric rate, which would have to be approved by the PSC and could take months to implement.

Booth and Associates are also working with the town to improve operation of the power plant during peak hours to reduce costs to electric customers. The Berlin power plant, if operated properly, could save $100,000 a year in power costs, Davis reported.

An attempt to get into a demand/response program, which could have saved the Berlin electric utility another $300,000 a year, was unsuccessful. “We were hoping for that. We were not able to get that through,” said Davis.

However, Human Resources Director Rachel Bomar and Line Operations Superintendent Augie Wienhold did save the electric utility $7,000 a year in workman’s compensation insurance premiums when several jobs were reclassified.

In the future, Davis hopes to see the town implementing recommendations made by Booth and Associates, on the operations side of the electric utility, addressing safety, training, maintenance and efficiency.