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Opponents of rate increase testify at PSC hearing

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Nov. 9, 2001
JACKSON The first of nine parties opposing Mississippi Power Co.'s proposed rate increase made their case Thursday at a public hearing that could decide the fate of the issue.
Ron Aldridge, state director for the Mississippi Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and one of several opponents, said a rate increase could hurt small businesses.
Mississippi Power filed a petition in August with the Mississippi Public Service Commission, seeking a 9.5 percent rate increase. Commissioners will approve or deny the proposal based on findings from the hearing.
The hearing is expected to end today. If the PSC approves a rate increase next month, it likely would take effect in January.
Residential service for 1,000 kilowatt-hours now costs about $80 a month; a 9.5 percent increase would raise the price to $87.60 a month. Mississippi Power serves 191,000 customers across Meridian and Southeast Mississippi.
On Wednesday, the first day of the PSC hearing, Mississippi Power officials were asked tough questions. They confirmed the company wants to increase its profit margin, or rate of return, from 11.74 percent earned in 2000 to 13.25 percent.
Company spokesman Kurt Brautigam said comments Thursday from Mississippi Power witness Charles A. Benore showed the necessity for increasing the profit margin and that the amount is not "inordinately high."
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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