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Levelized bill gets boost at meeting

<p>Talking rates: Drake Rice (right), of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Association, speaks to members of the public at last week’s public hearing which was held after the monthly City Council meeting. The meeting was held so members of the public could discuss utility bills with city officials and be able to ask them and Rice questions.</p>

Talking rates: Drake Rice (right), of the Oklahoma Municipal Power Association, speaks to members of the public at last week’s public hearing which was held after the monthly City Council meeting. The meeting was held so members of the public could discuss utility bills with city officials and be able to ask them and Rice questions.

Offering electricity customers in Paris a levelized billing option got a big boost at a public meeting held after the Paris City Council met on Monday, Feb. 3, according to Mayor Daniel Rogers.

In fact, Rogers said he’s going to prepare a resolution authorizing levelized billing and present it to the City Council in March. Rogers presented a similar ordinance last year, but the Council didn’t act on it because Aldermen asked for more information.

“It’ll help our people, especially those on fixed incomes,” Rogers said.”I think the City Council shares the opinion that if we can do something to help our people, then we should.”

The public meeting was called by Rogers so he and City Council members could hear from the public about utility bills, which have been high for two months. Also on hand was Drake Rice, a representative from the Oklahoma Municipal Power Association, which sells electricity to the city under a contract.

Rice told those in the audience that electricity prices have been impacted by three major events — a lack of hydropower because of weather conditions; the requirements that coal-fired generating plants meet Environment Protection Agency-mandated upgrades; and a much colder winter.

“There has not been any low cost hydropower available,” he said. “That has had a significant impact here in Paris.”

Rice also told those in attendance that OMPA actively purchases electricity in the open market meaning “we’ve actually been able to keep our costs low.”

He added that OMPA is a non-profit association and made a prediction.

“Costs are not going down in the future,” he said.

At the meeting, Rogers said that under his plan, levelized billing will be offered to those who have been getting electricity from the city for at least one year and have a good payment history. The bill will be for a 12 month rolling average and will vary between $15 and $20 a month.

When someone asked for a show of hands of those interested in the levelized billing option, more than half the people in the room raised their hands. There were about 30 people in the room.

Afterward, Rogers said he was glad Aldermen were present. “They got to hear a lot of what I’m hearing about electric bills,” he said.

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