The following recommendations regarding Huntsville Utilities proposed electric fixed fee increase were delivered to the Huntsville City Council in person.
On Sept. 17, 2018, we submitted an Open Records Request to Huntsville Utilities, to which they have failed to respond. On Sept 26, Huntsville Utilities representatives promised to have documents returned by end of day on Oct. 1. As of this letter on Oct. 4, Energy Alabama still has not received a response to the open letter request. Huntsville Utilities has only provided two additional charts from last week’s public meeting.
Energy Alabama opposes fixed fees because:
- Fixed fees hurt low-income customers and apartment dwellers most
- Fixed fees discourage energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Fixed fees do not align the costs of the grid to who is causing the cost of the grid
- Grid costs are primarily driven by peak demand such as hot summer days and cold winter mornings. Fixed fees encourage people to inadvertently make this problem worse.
In response, Energy Alabama makes the following recommendations:
- Increase public notice and participation.
- HSV Utilities provided less than two weeks’ notice of the first public meeting, which was advertised poorly and, consequently, poorly attended.
- Delay the final City Council vote currently scheduled for Oct. 11, 2018.
- HSV Utilities has requested less than one month between the first public notice and the proposed final vote by the City Council.
- No vote should be taken until all requested documents have been released to the public and ample time has been given to study such material.
- Decline the increase to fixed fees for the reasons stated above.
- Retain the inclining block rate for residential customers.
- Inclined block rates charge customers more money with increased usage. This encourages energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy use.
- Remove the declining block rate for small commercial customers.
- Declining block rates charge customers less money as their usage increases. This discourages energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy.
- If additional revenue is still needed after the above recommendation have been met, Huntsville City Council should only approve an increase to the energy charge, not the fixed charge, and require HSV Utilities to pilot a “time of use” rate when smart meters are deployed in the Huntsville/Madison County area
- Huntsville Utilities’ costs are in large part driven by consumption during times of congestion. If customers are allowed to choose rates that avoid consumption during these times, they save money and the whole system saves money.