The City of Houston is moving closer to identifying its source of electric service when an agreement with its wholesaler expires in 2013. That’s the message the Houston City Council heard Monday.
Larry Sutton said a regional group of cities facing the loss of its wholesaler, Sho-Me Power Corp. of Marshfield, have opted for a proposal extended by The Missouri Public Utility Alliance, a not-for-profit service organization that represents municipally owned electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and broadband utilities working together for the benefit of their customers -customers who, in effect, “own” the utilities in their community.
The alliance, based in Columbia, includes three closely aligned, yet distinct organizations. The Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities (MAMU), the Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission (MJMEUC) and the Municipal Gas Commission of Missouri (MGCM).
The Missouri Joint Municipal Electric Utility Commission is a statewide agency specifically authorized by state law to operate as an electric utility for the benefit of the combined requirements of the members.
Established by six charter members, the commission has grown to a membership of 60 consumer-owned systems ranging in size from 700 to 87,000 meters. These municipal and cooperative electric systems serve 347,000 retail customers, and have a combined peak load of over 2100 MW.
The next step, Sutton said, will be for municipalities seeking the new partner to approve the recommendation and then begin the review process by legal counsel.
Under the plan, Houston would join in March 2013 unless rates from the current wholesaler, Sho-Me Power, jump next year. Under the current proposal, retail users would see power rates increase about 7 percent in year one, about 2 percent the following year and about 2.5 percent in year three. An alternative proposal from Ameren would have seen a 20 percent first year increase.
In other matters, members:
-Wrote off about $3,000 in delinquent property taxes not paid over a three-four year period.
-Rescinded an earlier decision to vacate an easement on Bluebell Street in the Lillyview Addition. The move would have landlocked two property owners.
-Adopted a new policy on aviation fuel: Bills are to be paid by the 10th of the following month. If not paid by the end of that month, privileges would be revoked.
-Will implement a new system that will eliminate monthly utility delinquency notices. A mailing will soon go to customers explaining the various policies and will eliminate the monthly mailing that goes to those who don’t pay their bill timely. A council committee made the recommendations.
-Heard that the city had been given the final okay for a grant program that helps homeowners make repairs. About $88,000 is included. Persons interested can add their name to a waiting list.
-Will use a $4,000 grant to make heating and cooling improvements at a city maintenance shed. About 70 percent of the work is paid through the grant.