The company and its chairman insist the changes will result in unchanged or lowered bills for more than 80 percent of members.
“Apples to apples, whatever you spent in July of 2012, in July of 2013 you’re going to pay less,” Chairman Ed Crowell said. “The service charge accounts for the fixed costs of every customer, whether they have electricity flowing or not. The wiring, the meter, that stays the same. What we found when we tried to reduce rates was that the Wholesale Power Adjustment had been built up over the years with fixed costs, rather than increasing the base service fee. It hasn’t been bill clearly in the past.”
“I’m very glad to say we’re reducing rates,” Crowell said. “It beats the heck out of an increase.”
Beginning with January bills, the Wholesale Power Adjustment (WPA) will decrease from 1.9 cents per kilowatt hour to 1.7 cents and moved into the base rates.
An outside firm that the utility refused to name spent six months studying rates of the Marietta-based electric membership corporation.
The company said in a news release that the changes will result in a savings of $4.09 per month, or about 3.7 percent at a summer electric energy usage of 1000 kWh.
The changes, Crowell said, “make everybody’s bill clearer.”
But the few thousand Cobb EMC members in the south Georgia Pataula district still pay lower rates than metro-area members, Crowell said.
“We dealt with Pataula and put them on a schedule so that by the end of 2013 they’ll be paying the same rates,” Crowell said. “Their rates will be increasing, because they’ll be coming up to the proper rates.”
In other EMC news, the board of directors has engaged a California firm, Clifton Larson Allen, to conduct the forensic audit and that work has begun, said director Malcolm Swanson, who chairs the board’s audit committee.
Also, spokesman Mark Justice said the company has refunded $2.2 million in capital credits. In April, the company announced plans to retire more than $7 million in credits owed to members from 1956 through 1971.
There were 31,000 members during those years, the company has said. Of those who have received payouts so far, 511 are current members, Justice said. Prior to 2012, Cobb EMC last retired capital credits in 1976.
Cobb EMC is a nonprofit electric distribution utility with more than 170,000 members in Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Bartow and Fulton counties in metro Atlanta, and Quitman, Randolph, Clay and Calhoun counties in south Georgia.