Energy Cost Increases to Hit Consumers

The cost of heating your home this winter is going up.

Mississippi Power has asked the Public Service Commission to allow it to raise its rates for 2006 based on rising natural gas and fuel costs.

The utility announced that the increase would raise the average bill for residential customers by 10 percent.

Officials say fuel accounts for nearly 40 percent of Mississippi Power's cost of operating.

"We use natural gas and coal to generate electricity for our customers. As everyone knows, those costs continue to go up worldwide. This annual adjustment is an increase based on our costs of purchasing that fuel to generate electricity," said Mississippi Power spokesman Kurt Brautigam. "We pass that along to our customers on a not for profit basis. We try to manage those costs as best we can, but it is something that on an annual standpoint we adjust."

The increase is subject to the approval of the Public Service Commission. If it does grant the adjustment, the new rates would take effect in January.