NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/FOX24) — The Southwestern Electric Power Company is increasing it’s base rate starting this month. This comes as many customers are already paying more to keep their homes cool during this heat wave.
“I definitely thing it’s been hotter than normal,” said Sydney Williamson, a SWEPCO customer who lives in Fayetteville.
Williamson is an Oklahoma native who has lived in Fayetteville for several years now.
“Fayetteville has always felt like it is on average 10 degrees cooler, especially from the Ozark Mountains,” she said. “It has felt like a summer in Oklahoma.”
She’s also a SWEPCO customer who isn’t pleased to learn the company is increasing prices.
“I think it’s disappointing that that is another thing that people have to budget for,” she said.
SWEPCO said it serves 124,800 customers in Western Arkansas.
“Beginning this month, the new total bill for Arkansas residential customers using 1000 kilowatts per month will increase a little over $13,” said Tara Muck, Spokesperson for SWEPCO.
There are two main reasons for the price increase. One is investments in reliability and improvements to the resiliency of the power grid and cleaner power generation, including the construction and purchase of three wind facilities at the North Central Energy Facilities in Oklahoma. That accounts for $10.57 of the increase.
“The other part of it is the adjustment to our 2021 winter storm fuel recovery cost,” said Muck. “It’s essentially an effort to cover the extraordinary costs incurred due to the February 2021 winter storm, and that makes up about $2.45 of the increase.”
The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the base rate increase, as well as the winter storm recovery cost. Muck said the price of natural gas has also increased which has a direct impact on customers.
The investment in the clean power generation facilities will hopefully have long-term benefits.
“The fuel savings and tax credits coming from the North Central Energy Facilities will help offset the cost of building that facility, so it should result in long term savings for customers,” she said.
She also had some helpful tips of things you can do around your house to help keep your electric bill down.
“Don’t use lights in the rooms you don’t need to and use natural light when you can,” she said. “If you have south facing windows in your home, close those blinds or the drapes. Also try using appliances that use a lot of electricity during off-peak hours, which is early in the morning or late at night.”
Williamson worries people will be saving energy for the wrong reasons.
“I think the cost increases don’t promote people to save energy for the environment,” she said. “It’s only going to make them worried about saving because of the cost of things.”
SWEPCO said the new rate begins with bills issued for the first billing cycle of July, which started on June 29th.