Archived Story

Niles customers’ electric bills to increase

Published 1:27pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Customers of the Niles electrical utility will see their monthly bill go up in the near future.

The Niles City Council on Monday unanimously approved a surcharge not to exceed $1 to customers’ monthly electric bills in accordance with the state’s new Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

Jeff Dunlap, city utilities manager, said people should expect to see the surcharge within the next couple months, although no specific date has been set.

The state signed the program into law in July. It is designed to raise $50 million statewide to assist low-income households with utility bill payments. The funds will go to the state and be available through the Department of Human Services.

Dunlap said the city had until this week to decide if it would participate or opt out of the program. Cities that opt out of the program would be prohibited from disconnecting service to customers from Nov. 1 to April 15. Dunlap said the cost the city would accrue in delinquent bills during that time would be between $120,000 and $130,000 — far more than the $89,436 the city would contribute with the $1 surcharge.

Councilman Dan VandenHeede emphasized the surcharge passed Monday has nothing to do with a surcharge on electricity the council discussed during the July 8 meeting as a way to make up a revenue shortfall of $325,000.

That proposed surcharge was not discussed during Monday’s meeting.

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