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Inflation on fuel costs raises utility prices in Nome by 12%

A close-up view of a utility meter on the side of a Nome building.

Inflation costs continue to impact all sorts of consumer goods and services across the state. Nome residents will see that increased price reflected in this month’s utility bills.

“And the fuel surcharge rate has gone up about 8.8 cents per kilowatt hour, which is a new all-time record [increase],” Nome Joint Utility System manager, Ken Morton said.

If NJUS hadn’t used a weighted approach to adjust the fuel surcharge rate, then the increase would have been almost 15 cents total instead of eight, Morton said.

Overall this means that Nome residents will be paying 44.5 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity used this winter instead of 35.7 cents. After crunching the numbers, Morton said that is about a 12% increase from last year, but there is a way to keep utility bills down.

“So as long as you keep your consumption below the 750 kwh, then it could potentially be less than last year because they raised the cap. But if you’re over that 750 kwh per month, well…,” Morton said.

The Power Cost Equalization program will also help lessen the heavy financial burden placed on residents, Mayor John Handeland said during the recent Nome Common Council meeting. The State Legislature is expected to adjust this year’s PCE amount but it may not be enough to offset 100% of the increased utility rate, Handeland said.

“The PCE rate will change. It takes the State about 30 days to work through that process. So based on the higher cost of fuel the value of the PCE will also be increased,” Handeland said.

It is unclear when exactly the Legislature will announce final funding for PCE and what that exact amount will be. Morton with NJUS told KNOM via email the utility expects to receive an updated PCE rate in about a month.

Until then, the last fuel barge for the winter already arrived in Nome in September so fuel and utility prices are set until next summer.

Image at top: Utility meter in Nome. Photo: Matthew Smith, KNOM.

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