Clayton Approves Electric Rate Increase

Beginning next week, the average Clayton Public Power residential customer is looking at the potential for $3.46 more a month on their electric bill. The increase, which equates to about 15 cents a day for the average customer,  was approved unanimously on Monday night by the Clayton Town Council. It includes the first increase in base rates for Clayton in more than 20 years.

Following an independent third party consultant study, Town Council voted to raise electric rates by 3.1 percent beginning June 1. The rate increase is driven by two forces: the rising cost of electricity, which the Town buys wholesale from Duke Energy, and the rising cost of maintaining the distribution system and staff required for a hometown public power company. Tasked with managing those rising costs in a responsible way, the Town hired an outside consultant to recommend how best to sustain our local system, while also working to offset the burden of increased wholesale power costs and minimize the impact on our residents.

When the Town of Clayton looked at the median home in the Town of Clayton ($162,000 assessed value), that home consumes about 1100 kWh of electricity a month, paying about $140.93 a month for Clayton Public Power. If the  3.1% rate increase is approved (which includes the first base rate increase in 20 years and the commodity per kWh decrease), that bill would be $3.46 more – going from $140.93 to $144.39 a month. The changes for other customer classes, such as commercial consumers, are included in the study.

Since 1915, when Clayton switched-on its first electric street lamp, the Town says it has remained committed to being a hometown electric company that provides reliable, safe and affordable electricity to our residents. No matter what the weather, Clayton leaders say they pride themselves on keeping the lights on. The lineman are based locally and during widespread storm outages, Clayton Public Power restores power faster than the investor-owned utilities.

Clayton Public Power Director Dale Medlin explained there are fixed costs and variable costs involved in running a public electric company. Fixed costs don’t change when the cost of electricity goes up or down, he stated.  He cited things like keeping miles of poles and wires well-maintained, building new parts of the electricity network, or paying for trucks, fuel and electric crews. Those costs are not cheap and can make up as much as half of a customer’s power bill. The electric base rate  helps to pay for those fixed costs, and for more than two decades, Town of Clayton leaders have left that rate unchanged at $6.95. Medlin stated that fixed costs, however, surpassed that $6.95 base charge numerous years ago.  Town leaders noted that nearby Public Power towns have also moved to charging higher base rates. For example, Smithfield charges an $11 base rate, while Wake Forest charges $15.95 a month. The third-party consultants recommended Clayton update its base rate from $6.95 to $12.75, again the first base rate increase in more than 20 years.

While the base rate is going up June 1, Clayton residents will see the per-kilowatt-hour price of your electricity drop to 11.967 cents from 12.180 cents. This is the portion of a power bill that’s under the consumer’s control, meaning residents can decide how much electricity they use. With an ever-growing number of electrical devices in the home, coupled with increasing energy prices, Clayton leaders said it’s more important than ever to take control of electricity consumption.

Clayton residents can learn more about Money Saving Tips on the Town’s website. They are encouraged to explore the Town’s Electric Use Credit program (or load management program) which can bring savings up to $60 a year for electric water heaters and $48 for heat pump/heat strips. Under the 25% Program, customers can save up to $24 a year with Air Conditioner Compressor Control, or $40 a year under the 50% Program. The Town also offers FREE personalized energy audits from Clayton Public Power and many residents are surprised how far some added insulation or caulking around the windows can go in helping save energy.  Photo courtesy Town of Clayton