Paying for the February Deep Freeze

The mood was somber in the City Council chambers as Willow Springs City Administrator Beverly Hicks presented preliminary figures of the costs of electricity services during the historic winter weather event that gripped most of the nation last month. Usual prices for wholesale electricity cost the City 2.3 cents per kilowatt, but as subzero temperatures persisted and demand outpaced supply, the cost skyrocketed to 23 cents per kilowatt for a period of seven days in February.
As a member of a 13-city cooperative, Willow Springs buys wholesale electricity from the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA). The City’s March invoice from MPUA reflects a true-usage balance of approximately $175,000 for energy purchased in January, but also projects estimated costs of $738,550.38 for February.
The City only paid $224,200.08 of this balance this month because MPUA voted to finance the lion’s share of the costs for February’s energy over a 24-month period. It remains unclear how this cost will be passed on to utility customers. Based on current estimates, the City of Willow Springs expects to finance a balance of $625,560.75 through the MPUA’s line of credit over the next two years. 
Because this invoice provides only estimated numbers, Hicks and the City Council are not ready to announce or discuss particulars of the effect residents will see on their bills in the coming months. One thing is clear: there is no money in the City budget to eat this cost, so utility customers can expect to share the burden in some way. 
“There was nothing that was not affected by this weather event,” said Hicks on March 18, “In a single week, it caused this type of problem and now we have to pay for it. I don’t have any solutions tonight. I have some ideas.”
Hicks hopes to have more information at the next City Council meeting in April, when true-usage numbers for February will be available.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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