Utility rates in Sikeston are about to increase by around 17 percent, according to an announcement this week.
But before you begin to complain about the higher cost of utilities, you should first look at the background.
The BMU Board and especially Executive Director Ed Throop should be commended for keeping our rates historically low for such a long time. Since I have a little experience with the BMU, I know firsthand just how hard that publicly-owned firm works to maintain low rates and high service.
For more years than we deserve, the BMU has been able to maintain extremely low rates - among the very lowest in the state by a wide margin. That was accomplished through shrewd negotiations on the coal contract that brings the material here to produce our power.
When that coal contract was signed a decade or so ago, there was criticism that we were agreeing to a contract that was too long. Some thought we could save money by agreeing to a shorter contract with the coal providers and the railroads.
Those who thought that way have been proven grossly wrong.
We have benefitted in Sikeston from uninterrupted, inexpensive power because of excellent management and forward thinking.
So now we will pay a bit higher. But we'll still be among the cheapest utilities in the state. Look it up!
The other factor adding to this rate increase is the uncertainty on the federal level of new power plant regulations pushed by the current administration. The new federal guidelines are costly for power plants, despite an excellent record of clean, efficient operation for years and years.
The gamble over 30 years ago to build a massive power plant here has been one of the leading assets in our community. And each and every citizen of Sikeston has benefitted from that important decision so long ago.
If you think this rate increase is somehow tied to the new BMU building in downtown Sikeston, think again. Not one cent of this additional cost is a result of that new complex - which coincidentally is an amazing asset to our community.
Don't criticize the BMU for this rate increase. Instead praise them and thank them for holding the rates where they have been over the past decade.
Believe me, there are literally millions of Missourians who would thank their lucky stars to have the rates we have in Sikeston.
Those low rates didn't happen by accident.
And if you don't believe me, then just ask one of our industries - pick one - if the low rates here were a factor in their company's business.