AP News

Alabama PSC extending special electric rates


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The state Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday for Alabama Power Co. to extend special electric rates that were started last year to stimulate the economy.

So far, 77 businesses of all sizes have taken advantage of the special rates. Commissioners Lucy Baxley, Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Terry Dunn said the rates are designed to give businesses one more reason to create jobs during tough times.

Alabama Power's vice president for corporate relations, Nick Sellers, said the utility sought the extension because the special rates help bring in more customers. Alabama Power is a unit of Southern Co.

One of the special rates provides a one-year rate discount for a business that opens in a building that has been vacant for at least six months. The incentive applies to a new business or to a business that opens an additional location. Relocations don't qualify. Sixty-six businesses have used that program to save about 10 percent of their bill for one year. So far, the savings have totaled $45,000, Alabama Power officials said. Officials did not have an estimate of the jobs created by those 66 businesses.

The program was due to end at the end Jan. 1, 2013, but the PSC extended it until Jan. 1, 2014.

The other program is aimed at larger companies that invest enough money and create enough jobs to quality for the state's Capital Investment Tax Credits. The size of businesses that qualify depends on where the plants are located, but any large manufacturing plant locating in Alabama or undergoing a major expansion would likely qualify. The discount is for two years. It is 10 percent off the base rate for the first year and 5 percent for the second year.

Alabama Power officials said 11 companies have qualified, but only three have completed construction and opened so far. Their savings total $143,000. The 11 companies are supposed to create about 2,000 jobs when all are open, Alabama Power officials said.

The PSC extended the program from Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2016.


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