Huntsville Utilities to propose rate increase in the new year

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Huntsville Utilities will go before the public, and Huntsville City Council, to ask for a rate increase in January.

Joe Gehrdes, Director of Communications, explained that what they're proposing is a 2.75% electric rate increase for all classifications of customers. He said for the average family, it would mean a $4 increase per month.

"We are a not-for-profit, municipally-owned utility company, so we are not trying to drive profit," he said. "This will help to meet our revenue needs into the future." He said the rate also took into account inflation, and the company's argument that business costs have increased over the years. "This is us trying to keep up with that," he explained.

This rate increase proposal is different than the one the Huntsville City Council voted down in April. Gehrdes said it's lower than the previous proposal, and based on consumption this time, not fixed costs.

"That still leaves the power in the customer's hands," he said. "If you want to reduce your consumption and reduce your bill, you can still do that."

Huntsville Utilities will present plans at a public meeting on January 9th at 5 PM in the city council chambers. The public is invited to attend and ask questions.

Gehrdes said this rate increase is not a want, but a need for Huntsville Utilities. He said they need to maintain the current level of service for a growing community with greater infrastructure needs, and an increase is how they can do that.

"We don't go to City Council with an ask like that unless it's needed," he said. "It's pretty important."

The council would need to approve the rate increase, to take effect possibly in February pending that vote. Huntsville Utilities is scheduled to bring this up before the Huntsville City Council on January 12, for a likely vote on the 26th.