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Public Utilities

Q: If I see an electrical line on the ground what should I do and whom should I contact? 
You should stay clear of the line and report the problem to 251-928-8003.

Q: If I am driving on the road and a Utility pole or line falls across the road and is on my car, what should I do?
If your car is not on fire, you should stay in your car and do not touch anything. To assists you with not touching anything, cross your arms over your chest. After this just sit and wait patiently until help arrives. If this happens in the City of Fairhope, help will be there rather quickly.

Q: Are power lines insulated?
No. The lines are not insulated, but they are put on poles to isolate them from contact with the general public. Generally, this is the reason that poles are the height that they are, in order to conform with national safety codes.

Q: Why can birds sit on power lines and not get shocked?
Birds are able to do this because they are sitting in a single line and are not grounded. Electricity is always seeking to find a path to ground. If an animal completes this path to ground, they will be electrocuted. By sitting on one wire at a time, the birds, or other animals, are only touching the energized part and are not providing a path to ground for the electricity to go through them.

Electric UtilityQ: Can I get the line from the pole to my house buried?
Yes. Standard charge rates will apply and you may have to have your meter socket changed out to one that will accept an underground service. If you are interested in this service, please contact the electric department by phone or e-mail. Please be sure to include your contact numbers if you choose to e-mail us.

Q: Where does Fairhope get its electricity?
There are three providers of electricity in Alabama, Investor Owned Utilities, Electric Cooperatives, and Municipally Owned Systems. Fairhope’s electric system has been city-owned right from the start, just like our water, sewer, and natural gas systems. In 1978, the nation was on the edge of a depression, but Fairhope was growing fast, and we were spending a lot of money on utilities, building substations and putting in new lines to keep up with the growth. That same year, Alabama Power approached the City to buy our electric system, and it came close, but the City Council voted down the sale. The Mayor then negotiated better rates with Alabama Power, but we knew we needed something more than that. Before 1981, state law prohibited cities in Alabama from joining together to control their electric supply. But after that law was changed, eleven Alabama cities joined together to form the AMEA – Alabama Municipal Electric Authority. In 1986, the cities signed contracts giving AMEA the right to negotiate rates, and with the combined buying power of eleven cities, AMEA is able to obtain reliable, cost-effective electricity.

Q: Does AMEA buy from more than one source?
AMEA purchases power under contract from various sources, utilities across the U.S. AMEA is active in the ‘next hour’ energy market, including the Automated Interchange Matching System developed by AMEA and other utilities in the Southeast. This combination allows AMEA’s members to be competitive.

Q: Are prices ever re-negotiated?
If feasible, reductions in price are negotiated in current contracts. As those contracts expire, AMEA representatives go to the market to seek new, economical sources of electricity. Flexibility is important.

Q: Do I save money by turning the thermostat low at night and then higher in the morning?
If you have a heat pump, you should set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature and leave it. With other heating systems, you can save by turning the thermostat back for four hours or more.

Q: Does AMEA do anything other than provide power?
The Board considers a three-point criterion to decide whether to add a service. 1) The service can’t hinder AMEA’s principal purpose, 2) it must be needed and used by all members, and 3) it can be provided at a cost lower than a member could obtain if acting alone.

For example: A few years ago, several members were interested in installing or upgrading Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. They asked AMEA to see if money could be saved if AMEA purchased the systems for the members. Combining the needs proved to be so cost effective that all eleven members now have SCADA systems with a hub in the AMEA office. Combining the need for this cutting edge technology made it affordable for all member cities.

AMEA also awards yearly scholarships for high school seniors in all the member cities.

Q: How is AMEA operated and regulated?
AMEA is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors who serve staggered three-year terms. The boards oversee AMEA’s rates. Board members are not paid for their services.

Q: What is the most efficient thermostat setting for cooling?
Keep your setting as high as you can while still maintaining comfort. For most people, this is 74-76 degrees. Cooling costs increase by 1-2 percent for each degree lower than that.

Q. How often do I need to change filters?
Check filters once a month and replace them whenever they appear dirty. A dirty filter blocks airflow through the system, making it work harder and increasing operating costs.

Q: Are energy efficient appliances worth the added cost?
Even though such appliances can cost more to purchase, consider how much money a more energy-efficient appliance might save over its lifetime of use. Read the appliance’s ‘energy guide label’ to compare the true costs of different makes and models. These labels, required by the federal government, identify the type of appliance, its make and model number, and estimated annual energy cost. The label also shows how that model compares with other models.