Chattanooga area electric rates lower this winter than last year: TVA sales, rates below year-ago levels

Chattanooga area electric rates lower this winter than last year: TVA sales, rates below year-ago levels

December 19th, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

The two cooling towers at the TVA Bellefonte Nuclear power plant in Hollywood, Ala., tower 500 feet above the ground. Staff File Photo

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Monthly electric charges

* $143.85 -- Average residential EPB bill for December 2013

* $145.91 -- Average residential EPB bill for January 2014

* $148.97 -- Average residential EPB bill for January 2013

Source: EPB

The winter weather should have a bit less chill this year in the pocketbooks of most Chattanooga households.

Electric rates for the typical EPB customer are projected to be 2.1 percent less in January than they were a year ago. The average household in Chattanooga that heats with an electric furnace should pay about $3.06 less than it did last January, if weather conditions match what they were a year ago.

Although the fuel cost portion of the monthly power bill will increase from December to January as temperatures decline and usage rises, the increase is projected to be less this year, EPB spokesman John Pless said. The average bill for a household using the monthly average of just over 1,400 kilowatt hours of electricity will be $145.91 next month.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which supplies power to EPB and 154 other distributors across its seven-state region, has set January's fuel cost adjustment 14 percent below a year ago. TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said the federal utility is benefiting by abundant rains that have boosted hydroelectric generation from TVA's 29 power-producing dams. Lower TVA power sales also are cutting the need to buy or generate power from more expensive sources.

"Sales are expected to be 8 percent lower than January 2013, contributing to lower estimated fuel cost," Brooks said.

TVA lost its biggest industrial customer in May when the U.S. Enrichment Corp. shut down its plant in Paducah, Ky. Energy conservation and efficiency measures also have trimmed power consumption even as the economy has improved.

Brooks said TVA rates in January will be up some from December because of the monthly fuel cost adjustment. November was colder than forecast and hydro generation, while still above normal, is below the record-setting pace of this summer.

The January 2014 total monthly fuel cost will be 2.127 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to last January's monthly fuel cost of 2.470 cents per kilowatt-hour. The fuel portion of TVA bills represents about 30 percent of the retail cost of electricity for most customers.

TVA's lower rates this winter are in contrast to a 2 percent increase nationwide forecast for electricity users by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its winter forecast. EIA projects the typical household nationwide will spend about $18 more for electric heat this winter than what was spent last year.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 757-6340.