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City electricity customers will pay more

Costs of environmental regulations requiring cleaner power plant emissions are being passed on to Barnesville electricity customers. Barnesville has chosen to add another line item to its utility bills disclosing the environmental compliance cost adjustment rather than simply rolling it into the existing rates. The change is expected to cost average residential customers $6 to $8 a month, an amount city manager Kenny Roberts said Barnesville could not continue to absorb as it has done. ’Retail rates are being given more transparency on the rising cost of compliance with environmental regulations,’ said Scott Jones of the Municipal Electric Association of Georgia, which supplies Barnesville’s power. ‘If we want the plants to run we have to do this.’ The money on the bills ‘“ Barnesville joins another 30 MEAG cities who have passed the costs on to customers ‘“ will go to retrofit Plant Scherer in Monroe County, listed in January by the Environmental Protection Agency as the worst polluter in the nation, and Plant Wansley in Heard County, ninth on the coal-waste polluter list. MEAG and thus Barnesville own shares in both plants. The cost for environmental controls is estimated at $500 million and could rise in the face of changing regulations and rising fuel costs, including coal. MEAG also owns shares in natural gas and nuclear plants. ’We have to make this coal as clean as possible by 2015,’ said MEAG senior vice president Steve Jackson at the July 10 meeting. ’It’s unfortunate we’re incurring these costs during an economic downturn. We’ve done things to lower our costs.’ Jackson said the loss of industries using MEAG power also has caused a drop in power sales bad enough to affect prompt project completions. Council approved the rate change on first reading. It will not go into effect until a second reading is passed, likely next month. Then it will be added to the next billing cycle. It could be revised in the future if regulatory costs increase. Barnesville receives its wholesale electric power supply from the non-profit MEAG. Its wholesale electric costs to Barnesville have remained below national and regional averages. Over the years MEAG’s emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have been reduced by more than 60% since 2000 and by 2014 that number will be 93%, Jackson said. Council also: ‘¢ Heard Mary Ann Leverett ask for a reconsideration of the way Barnesville bills for irrigation uses. Currently, there are no gallons of water counted in the $10 base fee as opposed to household use, which includes 2,000 gallons. ’¢ Awarded the contract for the water treatment plant rehabilitation project to low bidder Lanier Construction for $1,294,917. All of the eight bidders were just a few thousand dollars off from each other. ‘¢ Heard Zachry Industries will begin painting the Depot caboose in early August while Barnesville helps install the Virginia Legge memorial bench. Also, bricks for the Humane Society fundraiser that will go in Summers Field Park will have a base cost of $30.

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