Electric bill won't shock users

CITY HALL — Just as a controversial 3.8% rate increase hits water bills, Glendale Water & Power customers will see a slight break on the electric side, utility officials announced Tuesday.

Effective Jan. 1, the utility's Fuel Adjustment Charge will decrease 6.7%, officials said, resulting in a net reduction of 2%, or about $2.80, per bimonthly electric bill.

The adjustable charge is dependent on the costs of power Glendale Water & Power purchases and the fuel it uses to generate power. It is adjusted twice each year according to changes in energy costs.

The nearly $3 reduction on the electric side will come as the average customer sees an approximately $4.33 increase on water charges after the City Council narrowly approved the rate increase in November.

The reduction represents the second electric rate decrease in the past 12 months, reducing the average residential electric bill a total of about 11%, officials said.

The utility has in recent years fended off criticism from residents who have complained of high electric and water rates.

On Tuesday, utility officials attributed the recent rate reductions to the utility's more aggressive fuel and energy purchasing program, which hedges electric costs over the long-term.

"We've had a very, very successful year with our energy portfolio overall," said General Manager Glenn Steiger. "So because of that, we were able to reduce costs, and that shows up in an adjustment."

Mayor Ara Najarian said he was glad to hear of the help for customers at a time when many are struggling to pay their utility bills.

The utility granted 24,547 payment extensions last fiscal year — a 5% increase compared with the same period the year before, and a 21% increase compared to 2007, according to a city report.

"I'm glad that we can adjust them as soon as we can to extend, obviously, rate relief to the utility users," Najarian said.

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