Brookings utility bills on the rise

Tony Gorder

Tony Gorder

Brookings residents will see an increase in their January utility rates.

According to Steve Meyer, president and general manager of Brookings Municipal Utilities, electric residential rates will see a $6.20 increase per month, while wastewater and water will go up $1.10 and $1.54 per month respectively.

“The rates adopted are part of a long-term plan for all utility services including funding for immediate and future operations and maintenance of the utility system, as well as future capital improvements necessary to deal with obsolescence, repairs, replacements and growth of the systems,” said Meyer.

Ryan Brunner of the Brookings City Council said the increased rates are more of an inflation adjustment. There will be little to no additional funds created from the increases.

Meyer said Brookings Municipal Utilities incurred a 20 percent increase in power cost from power suppliers Western Area Power Administration and Missouri River Energy Services at the beginning of the year.

“The city has to buy all of its power from the companies that generate electricity,” said Brunner. “The electric rates nationwide have gone up the last year and our energy providers raised their rates. The BMU increases are to pay the extra costs.”

“The power suppliers increase cost are because they are dealing with drought at the dams they operate, higher rail transportation cost for coal and fuel and ice storms damaging transmission lines, to name a few,” said Meyer

Meyer said wastewater rates increased to cover increases in operating and maintenance expenses, and water rates went up to plan for future water plant expansion and cover increase in operating and maintenance expenses.

“All rate changes will take effect Jan. 1 and will be reflected on the bills customers receive Feb. 1,” said Meyer.

Students living on campus will not be affected by the increased rates.

“BMU provides electric, telephone, water and wastewater to students living off campus,” said Meyer. “Students living on campus are served by SDSU.”

John Versteeg, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Mitchell said he does not live off-campus, but he will during the Fall 2009 semester and is concerned about paying more for power.

“I have a lot of electronics-computers, monitors, televisions. I’ll probably be more careful to shut them off when I’m not using them next semester,” said Versteeg.

Meyer and Brunner agreed that conserving energy is a good idea.

“For students, working with their roommates to use less energy is the best way to balance all of the costs students face,” said Brunner.

“Conserving electricity is in everyone’s best interest,” said Meyer. “Based on the habits of the college students that frequently visit my home, I would suggest turning the thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and up in the summer. I would also suggest turning off lights and televisions you are not using and spending a few less minutes in the shower.”