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2022 Cedar Falls Utilities rates stay steady, with 'modest' adjustments to water and TV

CEDAR FALLS – Municipal electric and natural gas utility rates will hold relatively steady in 2022, an objective officials touted as important in a time of dramatically higher market prices.

In addition, Cedar Falls residents will see modest adjustments to water and select TV rates, while internet and phone prices stay flat.

The Cedar Falls Utilities board of trustees held a public hearing earlier this month about the proposed base rates, which will go into effect in January. No members of the public spoke.

Wynette Froehner, director of finance and organizational services, presented the proposed rates, and trustees unanimously approved them. Customers already should have received notice of the changes.

“We’re pleased to hold base rate increases to a minimum for next year, particularly in the gas and water utilities where we are in the midst of several projects to replace mains in conjunction with street reconstruction,” said General Manager Steve Bernard in a statement. “The responsible decision is to replace the mains now and avoid the need to dig up new streets in the future.”

Steve Bernard

Steve Bernard is general manager of Cedar Falls Utilities.

Natural gas base rates for all customers will not change. Bernard, in a telephone interview, said residents can expect to pay on average $80 per month, with the caveat that the bill will vary by season.

There will be a 0.2% overall average increase to electric rates, or less than 3% for all customers. “Most” residential customers can expect no change to their rates, and, according to Bernard, to pay on average $81 per month.

The primary impact will be to a “small number” of governmental/nonprofit electric customers, who will pay an average increase of $12.82, which is “designed to better align rates with CFU’s cost of providing service to each type of customer.”

“We really thought it was important to not have a gas base rate increase this next year, given what customers have gone through this past year and are still paying off from last year,” Bernard told the trustees. “We just felt that that was an important step to try to do what we could to minimize that this year for gas and electric.”

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According to a company newsletter, natural gas market prices have doubled from this time last year, and the trend of higher prices is expected to continue.

“CFU has taken steps to protect customers from extreme natural gas price swings like our community experienced in February 2021. CFU has agreements in place that shield customers as much as possible from price volatility,” its newsletter states. “We have worked with our gas supplier to stabilize daily and monthly gas prices.”

To reduce energy usage and save money, CFU offers cost-sharing rebates to help customers install energy-efficient equipment and insulation and other thermal envelope improvements.

High natural gas market prices may also affect electric bills, because a growing portion of the country’s electricity is generated by natural gas, according to the newsletter. When natural gas prices are high, electric market prices also tend to go up.

In 2022, water rates will go up 4% to 6% across the board.

Residential customers will see an average increase of $1.45, or what results them paying $24.29 per month. Commercial, industrial and governmental/nonprofit ones see increases of $2.67, $6.28, $8.73, respectively, or what results in monthly rates of $63.94, $140.59, and $142.46.

“Cedar Falls’ water rates are among the lowest in Iowa. The Water Utility must modify rates to keep pace with operating costs and pay for system improvements scheduled with city street replacement projects,” said CFU in a press release announcing the 2022 rates.

Internet and phone customers will not see a change in pricing. The FiberHome Internet rate will remain at $57.50 per month. The “Local Talk” basic phone plan will remain at $19.95 per month.

“CFU has kept internet rates steady for six years, while making significant investments in the community’s broadband infrastructure,” the press release states.

Television rates will go up 5.9% for all customers, equating to $3 or $6 additional per month, depending upon the service plan, leaving a family with a television bill of $103 per month at most, or $148.50 per month if Internet is included.

TV rates must be adjusted to keep pace with the increase in fees CFU pays to network owners, the press release says.

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