In September’s Ruralite I shared with you news of the rate pressure coming from the Bonneville Power Administration’s increased wholesale power costs. You also heard that warm weather caused us to tighten our belts to manage costs with lower revenues due to lower electric bills from less heating.
We’ve taken a hard look at a budget for next year and based on these cost pressures and our mission to improve reliability, the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to raise rates starting with the bill printed in January. The monthly base charge will increase from $18 to $24.50 and the kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge will go up a little over one-tenth of a cent. For our larger load members, the demand charge will increase from $5.58 per kilowatt (kW) to $6.50/kW. Please turn to pages 4-5 & 8 to read about how your electric bill will change along with additional information on our rates.
The difference between last year’s budget and this year’s budget is less than 2%. The Bonneville power increase and the need to increase our right-of-way maintenance program to keep trees out of power lines are largely driving that small difference.
The unusually warm weather is driving the monthly basic charge increase. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration the period from January 2015 to July in Lane County was the warmest on record, shattering the prior record set in 1992. This means that the revenues we expected to use to pay for right-of-way maintenance, energy efficiency programs, and financial commitments were not generated.
We cannot responsibly plan for the financial health of the co-op by continuing to rely on revenue that changes significantly with the weather. By raising the base charge, our co-op’s infrastructure will be less vulnerable to unpredictable fluctuations. Further, a recent cost of service study confirms that the basic charge still does not fully fund fixed costs.
While your electric bill should be more stable, we recognize that it may be a little harder to reduce your bill by conserving energy. Lane Electric continues to offer energy efficiency programs and we have several ways to help you manage paying your monthly bill. If you would like to learn more about our payment options, including Pre-Pay, please visit our website or call. Your co-op is here to serve you reliably and responsibly.