GULFPORT (WLOX) -- It's the stuff that keeps the lights on and the air conditioning running, but these days it's more expensive than ever. A barge of coal unloaded Thursday at Mississippi Power's generating plant in Gulfport came from Columbia. The person who purchased it is the company's own bargain shopper, Fuel Services Manager David Mauffray.
"Not only are we looking for the best deal, but we're looking for reliability of supply," says Mauffray. "When you're competing for these commodities on a world wide basis, we're making sure that our customers are going to be able to get the best deals that we can."
Mauffray says the cost of getting these fuel resources to generating plants is only adding to the misery customers are feeling when they open those dreaded electric bills.
"Railroads and the barge companies that transport our product are charging us a fuel adder. Some of those prices are bumping over 40 percent increase in costs. All of our fuel costs go directly to the customer and they're audited by the Public Service Commission."
Mississippi Power officials say while the explanation provides little comfort for customers, there are things individuals can do to ease the pain in their pocketbooks.
"You're going to want to keep those thermostats on 78 degrees," says Mississippi Power Spokesperson Cindy Devall. "Change out those old incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs. Unplug those things that are not in use. They're still drawing current from the wall even if they're not in use, but plugged in."
These and other tips, they say, will make a difference. And in the current energy market, conserving is one of the only sources of relief available.