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Proposed power rate increase draws critics

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 2, 2001
Opponents of Mississippi Power Company's proposed 9.5 percent rate increase are expected to host a press conference today at 1:30 p.m. at Union Station.
A similar press conference has already been held on the Coast. The visit to Meridian is the second of two stops. The group plans to hold the first press conference of the day in Hattiesburg.
A spokesman for the Sierra Club said organizations planning to send representatives include Energy Consumers for Choice, the Gulfport Concerned Citizens Coalition and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Mississippi Power officials announced the proposed increase in July and filed a petition with the Mississippi Public Service Commission in early August. The Public Service Commission will ultimately approve or deny the rate increase proposal after public hearings scheduled for Wednesday through Friday.
The increase would raise Mississippi Power Company's profit margin from 11.74 percent to 13.25 percent, said company spokesman Kurt Brautigam, and be used to meet rising operational costs and provide incentive for investors.
The total revenue increase would be $46 million annually, Brautigam said.
Mississippi Power rates, he said, are comparable to other Southern Company rates. Mississippi Power's average rate for all customers residential, commercial and industrial is 5.2 cents per kilowatt hour. Savannah Power's is 7.11 cents; Gulf Power's rate is 5.63 cents; Alabama Power's is 5.67 cents and Georgia Power's is 5.75 cents, Brautigam said.
Meridian manufacturer Hartley Peavey, chief executive officer of Peavey Electronics, said he will not attend the press conference but he is opposed to the rate increase.
He said while Mississippi Power officials quote a 9.5 percent increase in their proposal, his increase is likely to be more because he pays a peak-demand price year-round.
Peavey said his increase could end up being 18 percent, which is bad news for his corporation, especially since Meridian councilmen recently raised property taxes by almost 5 percent.
Central District Commissioner Nielsen Cochran said he expects commissioners will make a decision 30 to 90 days after the public hearings end on Friday.
The hearings begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday on the second floor of the Woolfolk State Office Building at 501 North West St. in Jackson.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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