Tupper Lake village board asks for review of electric rates

TUPPER LAKE – The village board has initiated a review of its electric rates by the New York Power Authority.

The board unanimously decided to seek the review during a special board meeting Monday morning, Mayor Paul Maroun said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Maroun said the review process is lengthy and that the village has already started it by providing information to NYPA. Once the review is complete, NYPA could authorize a change in the village’s municipal electric utility rates.

“There could be a number of issues that the power authority didn’t take into account the last time they did a review,” Maroun said. “There may be ways to look at the rates so some people don’t pay as much, and others who are using tons of electricity have to pay a little more. We don’t know, and that’s what the purpose of this is.”

Maroun said the review considers residential and commercial usage, and he said he thought it would also take into account future energy-using projects like the possible purchase of snowmaking equipment at Big Tupper Ski Area.

Higher-than-normal bills for electric heat have been a talking point at village board meetings this winter, and some residents have questioned the reason for the rate increase.

Municipal Electric Department Supervisor John Bouck explained during the March meeting that the village had 11 million kilowatt hours delivered to it by NYPA in January. Anything above the village’s energy allocation and proportionate hydroelectricity is called incremental power, which is sold at a higher rate per kilowatt hour.

That increase is reflected in the purchased power adjustment, or PPA, on residents’ electric bills.

The village board authorized a revenue anticipation note in an amount not to exceed $450,000 in February to pay the Municipal Electric Department’s bill, which also raised questions among residents regarding the electric department’s solvency. Maroun said everything is fine. He added that he hopes the results of the review will better enable the village to plan ahead in the future.

“Look, we’re not bankrupt,” Maroun said. “Right now, for a number of reasons, a lot of them being the costs we have to pay out right now, we’re not being able to set aside enough to do the future things that were planned from the last rate review, like maybe upgrade certain areas in the community, or purchase a new electric truck, or look at the possibility of building a new garage to house the electric vehicles.”

Contact Shaun Kittle at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.