A contract is being blamed for the City of Minden being unable to remedy the high cost of electricity to its customers. City council members have already authorized Mayor Tommy Davis to find solutions.

“Years ago, a similar contract with SWEPCO was a good deal,” District D Councilman Mike Toland said. “They had low rates and it worked well for the city.”

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE CONTRACT

Toland said that because rates have risen and transportation costs have doubled, it has a negative impact on the cost to customers.
“We all recognize our electric rates are higher than they should be,” he said. “We have comparable water and sewage rates, but we have zero control on electricity and are entirely dependent on what SWEPCO charges.”

“We all recognize our electric rates are higher than they should be,” he said. “We have comparable water and sewage rates, but we have zero control on electricity and are entirely dependent on what SWEPCO charges.”

The contract was revised and renewed after the untimely death of Minden Mayor Bill Robertson in 2013. Robertson was responsible for signing a contract renewal in October 2010. The Power and Supply Agreement was then amended in February 2014, after Davis was elected to the mayor’s office for a one-year term before being elected in late 2014 for a four-year term.

According to the contract, a minimum 2 percent increase on the charge of energy will be added each year.

In addition to that rate increase, each month a capacity charge is assessed. That charge is calculated by averaging the four-summer month’s demand during June, July, August and September.

According to the contract, the City of Minden is notified by May 31 each year with information detailing how the demand from the previous year will affect the cost formula for this year. The cost difference will be spread equally across the bills of July, August and September.

However, no public notices have been given notifying Minden customers of the rate increases.

“It makes it very hard to plan paying bills when your utility bill is as much as your house note,” one resident said.
Bills have been reported as high as $800 to more than $1,000 for single-family residences.

The council has authorized an attorney to pursue options involving the contract, but council members said there is no quick fix.

Like Toland, District C Councilman Vincen “Cheeze” Bradford was not on the council when the contract was signed.

Bradford said he hopes to meet as a council soon to discuss the issue, but no dates for special meetings were set as of press time.

“Council members use city utilities, for homes and businesses,” he said. “And the bills are shocking us, too. It was a bad decision (contract) and we want to do what we can.”

Bradford and Toland agree that at the moment, the city is locked into its commitment with SWEPCO.

“This problem did not happen overnight, that’s why people need to stay informed and involved,” Bradford said. “Come to meetings, ask questions, share your opinion.”

The next city council meeting is at 7 p.m., Nov. 7 and residents and business owners have expressed a desire to attend.

One local industrial manufacturing company on city utilities, told the Press-Herald the cost of doing business in Minden has sky rocketed because of the energy cost.

“It is imperative this issue be addressed as quickly as possible,” a representative said, noting they plan to speak at the meeting.