7.6% power rate hike

Westminster leaders will delay their vote one month on what to do about a 7.6% electric power increase from their wholesale supplier. The city is a member of PMPA, a consortium of upstate municipalities that draw their power supplies thru part ownership of a nuclear reactor. David Smith, city administrator, says the increase reflects what the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency calls increased costs. But Westminster City Council, by waiting until its April meeting, is buying time in the hope that the budget process will produce some unanticipated revenue that can be applied to soften the impact on the city’s electric retail customers. The mayor and council have options that include passing the entire increase onto their customers or passing a portion of it and having the city absorb the difference. First-year Councilman Yousef Mefleh said he’s against the increase. As a Main Street restaurateur, Mefleh said he meets people every day who would be hard-strapped to pay the increase. Mefleh said that applies especially to those who are on fixed incomes. Smith estimates that an average residential customer using one thousand kilowatt hours would see an increase of $12.02 a month. A wholesale increase shouldered by the PMPA member cities last year amounted to 7.3%.