Thursday, October 6, 2005

City aldermen vote to change gas rate structure

Staff Writer

In order to keep abreast of a potentially volatile natural gas market the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen recently approved a Purchase Gas Adjustment (PGA) rate structure.

The structure went into effect October 1, according to Don Hollingsworth with the Public Works Department.

The PGA method helps natural gas utilities by setting the rate for gas the first day of every month based on actual costs of gas, rather than using an estimated pricing method for a 12-month period.

The board also adopted a flat-rate across-the-board rate adjustment that Hollingsworth said would be fair for every customer whether they be a residential, commercial or industrial gas user.

Under the new structure each customer is charged the same price per unit of gas used.

“The more you burn the more you pay,” Hollingsworth said. “We will go back to conservation.”

All customers will pay the same commodity charge (the cost of operation and maintenance) and the same PGA rate for gas burned. Residential customers will pay $10 for basic service (also called the minimum rate), commercial customers will pay $15 for basic service and industrial customers $30.

Basic service is a monthly fee charged customers to have service whether or not they meter any gas use for the month. The commodity charge is based on units of gas burned and is rated the same for all types of gas users.

Tips for conservation are listed at the bottom of this article.

Utility Director Tom Boone asked the board for permission to hire two entry level employees with a third one needed. Six applicants appeared before aldermen.

The board OK’d advertising for an electrical or mechanical engineering trainee to be groomed for a superintendent’s position with the electric department. Boone said new interns are needed to fill slots when superintendents retire.

In other business, the board discussed whether to permanently close the swimming pool or to repair the water filtering system and keep it in use. Alderman Naylond Hayes argued the old pool is important for youth as a recreational outlet during summer months.

“It is the only recreational facility for kids in the city for 85 percent of the summer,” he said.

Pool attendance averages about 80 swimmers per day, he said.

DeBerry argued that the cost for insurance and the risks as well as repair costs outweighed the benefits of keeping the pool open. He supports building a waterpark at Sam Coopwood Park.

Hollingsworth offered to study the cost of repairing the water filtration system for the board.

Conservation tips

These tips for conserving gas were provided by Hollingsworth.

  • For heating, set the thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night and turn it down or off when you are away or on vacation.

  • Install a clock thermostat for your furnace that turns the heat down automatically when you are away or asleep and brings the temperature back up to a comfortable level before you return or get up.

  • Open draperies to let the sunshine in on bright days. Consider using insulated draperies and shades. Close draperies or pull down shades at night.

  • Insulate to keep the heat where it is needed most. The attic is one of the most important places to insulate. The insulation’s R-value is the measure of how well insulation keeps warm air from escaping through it. The higher the number, the greater the insulating value.

  • Stop air leaks and cut air drafts. Gaps and holes where plumbing pipes and wires enter the home and around exhaust fans and vents as they exit the home should be caulked and stuffed with insulation. If you can see daylight or feel a draft through a crack under or over a door, you may want to consider weather stripping.

  • If you have a dishwasher, set the temperature on your water heater to 130-135 degrees. If you do not have a dishwasher, a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit is considered efficient and sanitary.

  • Use a water heater insulation wrap to avoid heat loss through the tank walls.

  • If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed unless you have a fire going. Glass doors on the fireplace can help stop air leakage.

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