Officials say electricity rates among the lowest
JEFFERSON CITY -- While Missourians are cranking up their air conditioners to combat stifling heat, officials say the state -- including the City of Sikeston -- has one of the lowest rates for residential electricity in the nation.
The state Department of Economic Development said Wednesday that 2002 statistics from the federal Energy Department show Missouri has the seventh lowest residential electricity rates, tying with neighboring Tennessee.
Missouri households paid 6.4 cents per kilowatt-hour last year compared with an average of 8.2 cents nationally.
Commercial electricity was ranked fourth lowest nationally at 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour while industrial customers pay the 14th lowest rates in the nation at 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Overall, Missouri's electricity rates are 10th lowest in the nation for all sectors.
And within Missouri, rates in Sikeston are some of the lowest across the board.
"Sikeston has always consistently been one of the 10 cheapest providers in Missouri," said Lester Wright, business manager for the Sikeston Board of Municipalities.
Residential electricity rates in Sikeston are 4.76 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the most current fiscal year statistics ending May 31, 2003. Commercial electricity rates are 4.72 cents per kilowatt-hour; and industrial customers pay 3.28 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Wright credited Sikeston's ownership of the power plant for the reason prices are some of the lowest in the state.
"We own our own power plant so we are the ones who control our own costs -- and we haven't had to buy energy from other sources," Wright said.
Joe Driskill, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said Missouri's prices have remained low because of an abundant, stable supply of electricity that isn't vulnerable to the kinds of outages and shortages seen in other parts of the country.
Of Missouri's eight surrounding states, Nebraska, Kentucky and Oklahoma all have lower combined rates for electricity while Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee all had higher rates.
Kelvin Simmons, director of the Missouri Public Service Commission, said he was confident that the state's electricity supply would remain affordable and dependable because the state's central location offers it a variety of power-generating sources.
''This is a critical asset to all the people and businesses that call Missouri their home,'' said Simmons, whose agency regulates utilities in Missouri. ''Missouri's electricity generation and transmission system has a good, solid history of remaining operational.''
The PSC last week approved construction of a new high-voltage power line through mid-Missouri by AmerenUE that could add capacity to the existing power grid and lessen the likelihood of a failure similar to the blackout that affected parts of the Midwest and Northeast. The 54-mile transmission line is expected to cost $25 million.
Driskill said that having low prices and a stable source of power also helps when the state is trying to recruit industry.
''The cost and availability of energy resources are certainly important factors that businesses consider when making site selections,'' Driskill said. ''The fact that Missouri offers a reliable, low-energy supply aids in our ability to capture good economic opportunities.''