Nineteen days ago on Tuesday, January seventh, we told you that your light bill would be going down by thirteen percent....but, not so fast, or if BEL has its way, maybe not at all! Last Thursday, the utility went to court requesting an injunction against the new rate package. BEL’s complaint is that it was passed without inviting comment from BEL or the public – which is a procedural necessity.
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has delayed the implementation of its amendments to the 2008 ARP Final Decision for BEL in order to undertake public consultation. Toward this end, the PUC issued a public notice today, inviting comments from interested persons.
The PUC will receive written comments until Wednesday, February 4, 2009. It intends to issue its decision to either confirm or further amend the Amendment to the 2008 Annual Review Proceeding Final Decision on Friday, February 6, 2009.
The Commission’s public notice is being published in the Tuesday edition of the Amandala, and the weekend editions of other widely circulated newspapers. Your light bill for January will go down sharply – by more than ten percent. That’s what the PUC has ordered in response to world oil prices which have been steadily declining since July of 2008. According to the PUC, since then, BEL has accumulated a credit for consumers estimated to be 17 million dollars at the end of December.
That’s because the price of fuel was forecast to remain at well over a hundred U.S. dollars per barrel, but it has fallen to less than $50 per barrel. So now, because of the difference between what was forecasted and what actually happened, BEL owes consumers $17 million.
So to get it back, the PUC has ordered that the average electricity rate be lowered by just a shade under six cents per kilowatt hour, which is a 13% decrease. It is probably the greatest single rate cut on record. Of course, it goes along with the greatest tumble in world oil prices in memory. And while its cents per kilowatt hour – each cent is representative of $2 million in reduced revenue to BEL. In fact projections are that this rate – which will stand for six months – will mean twelve million dollars in savings for consumers and reduced revenue to BEL.
But there’s still something in the package for the utility provider. The PUC has ordered that its approved rate of return should now be restored to 12% - after it was cut down to 10% in June of last year. But, today BEL had no comment. A spokesperson told us the company still has the original ruling under appeal in the courts and will reserve comment until after that matter is settled.
Channel 7 News