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The fuel cost adjustments made each month by the Tennessee Valley Authority will fall next month to the lowest December level since TVA began its fuel rate adjustments to bills seven years ago.

TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said the overall system average fuel rate for December is approximately 14% lower than the three-year average December fuel cost.

Brooks said the drop in fuel costs next month reflects the cheaper price of natural gas and other fuels and higher expectations for hydro generation in December due to the above-average rainfall through most of 2019.

TVA's 29 power-generating dams, which are "fueled" by rainfall runoff in the Tennessee Valley, produce about 10% of TVA's overall power.

"This is actually the lowest December fuel cost since at least 2012, when we started the current calculations," Brooks said.

TVA adjusts its electricity prices each month to reflect the changes in the cost of fuel, but TVA has pledged to keep its base rates constant for at least the next decade.

Typical EPB bill

For the average EPB residential customer using 1,295 kilowatthours of electricity a month, the electric bill charge is or will be:

* $143.26 in December 2018

* $141.39 in November 2019

* $141.23 in December 2019

Source: EPB

TVA is even offering 3.1% rebates to local power companies that sign 20-year contracts with TVA. Although about 85% of the 154 municipalities and power co-ops in TVA's 7-state region have signed such contracts, Chattanooga's EPB has not.

EPB Chief Financial Officer Greg Eaves said last week the local utility is still studying its options before locking itself in with TVA as is exclusive wholesale power provider for such a long term.

With lower fuel costs and no increase in TVA base rates, the typical EPB residential customer will pay 1.4% less for electricity next month than what such a consumer paid for the same amount of power in December 2018.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.

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