Petersburg’s downtown generator building on Haugen Drive (Joe Viechnicki/KFSK)

Electrical bills going out at the end of this month in Petersburg will have a surcharge for the community’s diesel generation last month.

That once-a-year charge is a new addition. It pays for diesel fuel during a short period of maintenance work on hydroelectric power plants and the regional power grid. This year Petersburg Municipal Power and Light ran its generators for eight days, two shorter than expected. Good weather meant a quicker completion for the maintenance work. However the local utility still burned over 38-thousand (38,400) gallons of diesel fuel during that time and paid an average price of $4.71 a gallon.

To lower that cost, Power and Light asked for energy conservation last month. Utility director Karl Hagerman says it appears people did cut back on their electricity use. Joe Viechnicki spoke this week with Hagerman about what that extra cost will look like.

The decision on adding a surcharge is an annual one for the borough assembly and may not be needed in future years if the price of diesel drops. However, it comes on top of increases to the cost of electricity in January and again in July. Those rate hikes will pay for work approved by local voters last October, including an overhaul of the hydro plant at Blind Slough.