July 22, 2013 9:37:35 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Columbus Light and Water Department General Manager Todd Gale said Tennessee Valley Authority officials have scheduled a conference call for July 31 with all of its distributors -- one day before the regional power agency's 60-day deadline to announce any rate changes.
The TVA board of directors has not yet approved a budget for the company's 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, leaving distributors in the dark on whether or not a rate increase is coming.
Speculation among CL&W board members Thursday during their monthly meeting after being informed of the conference call was that it wasn't likely TVA would forgo an increase for a second consecutive year.
Gale said an increase was anticipated last year as well.
"They're developing their budget. They'll notify us what they're going to carry to the TVA board. Nothing is formalized until the TVA board acts," he said. "Last year we were expecting a rate increase, but TVA postponed it. We were expecting an 8-to-10-percent rate increase. Any rate action will be taken to the TVA board prior to October 1. The amount and if there will be one is speculation right now."
While nothing is confirmed at this point, CL&W board members said once they have a clearer picture when they meet again next month, they'll have to make their own adjustments, which could include consideration of cutting services or raising their own customers' rates to offset increases.
"The writing is a little bit on the wall, which is going to eat further into (the CL&W budget)," board member Andrew Colom said. "There's a possibility they could get a rate increase absent anything we can do."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.