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Opinion | Public Service Commission vote on Alabama Power rates benefits consumers

George Clark & Rosemary Elebash

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The Alabama Public Service Commission’s decision this week to allow Alabama Power Company to modify its rate system and to reduce rates for consumers a total of $337 million over the next two years is a triumph for ratepayers.

Rate stability is something that Alabama Power customers have not always enjoyed. In the past four decades, there have been some chaotic times with some broad swings in electricity costs. Customers of Alabama Power – especially industrial users and critical industry sectors such as health care – must have reliable and affordable energy. “Reliable and affordable” has become a slogan for Alabama Power, but it is not just an advertising strategy. Large scale and sustainable economic development is impossible without a strong and stable energy infrastructure, something that Alabama Power’s leadership and our elected leaders recognize.

Alabama business executives and elected officials have worked hard to share the state’s “open for business” stance with companies looking to expand. We have enjoyed some great successes in attracting new industry to the state and this decision by the PSC can only be considered another arrow in the quiver in our hunt for more high-paying jobs for the people of Alabama.

The rate reduction made possible by President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be 5 percent for the remainder of 2018. The typical ratepayer will see a reduction of more than $9 in monthly bills beginning in July. The total reduction will be $257 million for the final six months of the year with another $50 million in 2019, due to the tax reform enacted by Congress. Fuel costs will be reduced by an additional $30 million as well.

PSC Commissioners Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, Jeremy H. Oden and Chip Beeker hammered out an agreement with Alabama Power that guarantees no increases in the company’s base rates through 2020. And due to the changes in the corporate tax rate, Alabama Power’s credit rating could have been degraded and raised the cost of debt – which would have been passed on to customers. The PSC’s decision to allow the company’s modification of its rate structure saved consumers money.

Over the past four years, consumers have enjoyed the most stable rates in Alabama history and now thank to the PSC, we are assured of at least two more years of stability. The Alabama Power Company and the Public Service Commission are to be commended on working to give consumers this financial windfall.

Rosemary Elebash is the Alabama Director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and George Clark is president of Manufacture Alabama. To learn more about NFIB, please visit: www.nfib.com/alabama. To learn more about Manufacture Alabama, visit: www.manufacturealabama.org.

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