If you are a Municipal Light and Power customer, your electric bill is about to go down.

ML&P Director Mark Johnson said the average household will see a drop of about $36, starting April 1.

That's a switch for customers who have seen recent rate increases. But, Johnson said it isn't the base rate customers pay that's going down, it's a different charge, called COPA, which covers the cost of fuel; it's at its lowest level in seven years.

Johnson said several things are at play, including the Utility's newest power plant. ML&P has been criticized for building the $300 million plant that caused rates to rise. But, Johnson said the plant is operating exactly as it should be. He said the new plant is operating so efficiently that customers are paying less for the natural gas that's used to generate electricity-- and the results can be seen in their monthly bills.

"The customer actually pays less today than they did before we built the plant, and we are collecting the cost of the plant in there," said Johnson. "It's the efficiencies that come from the plant that are lowering the customers' over-all bill."

Johson said ML&P is performing well but he still believes it's a good idea to sell the utility. He said it's difficult for the government to do a good job running a utility.

He said combining ML&P with another utility will create even more efficiencies that can be passed on to consumers in the form of lower rates.

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