EPB board approves 5 percent rate increase

EPB board approves 5 percent rate increase

June 17th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Local - Breaking News

EPB is set to raise electric rates 5 percent for Chattanooga-area customers beginning July 1 if the measure is approved by its regulator, TVA.

The rate increase will refill the utility's coffers, which were drained substantially by damage done to its grid by two large storms this year, one of which in April cost the power distributor $30 million, according to Greg Eaves, chief financial officer and executive vice president.

The rate hike assumes that such storms will not strike again next year, and is based upon continued revenues from EPB's fiber optic services and repayment of some 60 percent of the cost of storm damage by the federal government within two years.

Without revenues from the utility's telecom, TV and video divisions, the rate hike would be at least twice as much, said Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, and additional tornadic storms next year could lead to yet another rate increase.

If current conditions hold constant, it will take roughly four years to refill EPB's cash reserves through the proposed rate increase, he added.

About 80 percent of EPB revenues are paid directly to TVA, which supplies EPB with electricity. TVA rate increases and monthly fuel cost adjustments are passed on directly to residents and businesses.

For more information, pick up a copy of Saturday's Times Free Press.