Alabama Power blames 2019 rate increase on coal ash costs

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( — Alabama Power Company will increase its electric rates in 2019 to cover the cost of closing its coal ash ponds throughout the state in accordance with coal ash rules finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015.

"Federal environmental rules related to water and the handling of coal ash are the primary drivers of more than $200 million in government-mandated costs that are changing the way Alabama Power delivers electricity to its customers,” Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman said via email.

Sznajderman said rates will increase about 3 percent on average, adding $4.49 a month to the average residential customer’s bill, assuming the customer uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. The rate increase will impact all Alabama Power customers, about 1.4 million homes, businesses and industries, and went into effect on Jan. 1.

For decades, Alabama Power’s coal-fired power plants have used wet ash ponds to dispose of the solid materials left over after burning the coal to generate electricity.

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