Nov. 18—Mississippi Power has filed annual documents with the Public Service Commission to show how fuel rates are impacting the cost of producing electricity and how it will affect customers' bills.
The company said that inflation is driving up the cost of producing electricity.
"The primary driver of this is the cost increase for natural gas," said spokesman Jeff Shepard.
The increase will be $6 a month for the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity a month.
The company has asked the PSC to approve its phase-in approach that will allow Mississippi Power to charge $3 more starting with the February billing cycle. The other $3 would be added in June.
"This is the first time ever we asked to have our fuel filing handled this way," Shepard said.
With the costs of goods and services up across the board, he said, Mississippi Power wanted to to give customers time to make this adjustment. Instead of the entire increase coming when people are trying to heat their homes and their bills are higher, half of the increase will be deferred until the cold weather has passed and the warmest weather arrives.
Pass through rate increase
The utility reports its energy costs to the state PSC each fall and the commission generally makes its determination at the January meeting.
It is called a pass-through rate because it's based on the actual costs of producing electricity.
"We don't earn a profit on that," Shepard said, and the adjustment higher or lower, depending on the cost of natural gas, coal and purchasing power if needed, is passed on to the customers.
As one of the electric cooperatives serving South Mississippi, Singing River Electric's rates aren't regulated by the PSC, said Lorri Freeman, public relations manager.
A 10-person board is elected by the co-op membership and the board determines rates based on the power cost adjustment A residential rate calculator on its website shows how the bill is determined..
"We do purchase all of our electricity at Cooperative Energy out of Hattiesburg," she said. That company, in turn, buys some of its power from Mississippi Power.
Need help to pay bill?
Mississippi Power, Singing River Electric and Coast Electric have established a program with Catholic Charities, administered through United Way, to help the elderly, handicapped or disabled cover their electric bills.
The money is donated by the employees, customers and members of these utilities who want to help the less fortunate. Those requesting help are asked to provide documents to show they are in need.
It's not based on religion, Freeman said, and the charity also provides help with budgeting and other financial planning and life skills, she said.
Those who can contribute to the program to help their neighbors can do so on the Singing River app, she said, or by checking the box on the back of the bill. That will round the amount to the nearest dollar, which she said typically adds about $6 a year to the power bill.
Apply for assistance
For all three Coast power companies, call toll-free at 855-847-0555 to apply for energy assistance.
For information and to donate:
— Mississippi Power: Project Share
— Singing River Electric: Neighbors Helping Neighbors
— Coast Electric: Share Your Blessings
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