January 2017 – Ruralite Back-page

This winter season is turning out to be colder than last year’s. You’ll probably use more electricity to heat your home too. A warm winter home means that your electric bill will likely be higher than last year so plan accordingly. Here are my annual tips to help you manage your bill:

  • Track your energy use to manage your electric bill. Our online SmartHub feature can help you monitor your electricity usage patterns and see where you might find some savings by adjusting a room thermostat or water heater thermostat.
  • Try our Easy-Pay Plan where for eleven months you pay an average identical amount based on your electricity use during the past 12 months. On the 12th month, your bill “balances” or “trues-up” your account.
  • Keep cold air out, warm air in: Use drapes to capture warmth and keep out the cold. Close your fireplace damper when not in use because it can bring in cold air. Caulk and weather strip those doors and windows and that fireplace.
  • Are your pipes cozy? Wrap exposed pipes and water heaters that are in unconditioned spaces.

Remember too, that you can give your co-op a call to talk about energy efficiency programs and ideas. We’re ready to help!
In December the Board of Directors adopted Lane Electric’s 2017 budget with no rate increase. As I’ve mentioned to you before, weather is the biggest driver for rate increases.

We’re expecting a return to normal weather pattern and we’ll find out if we’re right by the end of March. The Board took advantage of this cautiously optimistic forecast to move a decision about rates to later in the year when they can see how we did with electricity sales. This benefits the Board by giving them better information to make rate decisions with. It benefits members by avoiding a rate increase during winter—right when you’re using the most electricity—when electricity bills are naturally higher.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has proposed increasing their wholesale power and transmission rates by about 3% in October. BPA’s wholesale costs account for about 40% of Lane Electric’s expenses. We’ve been partnering with other BPA customers to urge BPA to minimize their increase. Lane Electric already faces our own cost pressures from increased fuel costs and materials. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

In closing, I hope you had a joyful and enjoyable holiday season. We live in a beautiful corner of the USA among mountains and water and many shades of green that offer us all a daily opportunity to appreciate life. For this New Year, make time to recognize and enjoy our beautiful home.

Matt Michel
General Manager