CEO Jeff Wadsworth
It is easy to take for granted our ready access to affordable, reliable electricity with just the flip of a switch. Surprisingly, the cost of having electricity right at our fingertips has risen relatively slowly. For example, since 1936, the average cost of a loaf of bread has increased by about 1.5¢ per year. The cost of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of the electricity needed to bake that bread has increased by only about 1¢ per decade!
While electricity remains an exceptional value in today’s modern life, the upward pressure on electric rates is still real – especially in recent years. Recently, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the wholesale power cooperative that provides electricity to PVREA, announced a 4.2% increase in its rates for 2017.
As you would expect, the increase in Tri-State’s rates will impact PVREA. The cost of wholesale power accounts for approximately 80% of PVREA’s expenses, so when an increase occurs, your co-op must decide how to cover the cost. To that end, we are proposing to pass along a relatively small portion of this increase through our rates in 2017.
Your Board and management staff is always looking on ways to operate as efficiently as possible before passing on increases to our members. PVREA is a not-for-profit co-op and one of our primary purposes is to keep electricity affordable for members. In the past three years, your co-op has not implemented any rate increases to homes and businesses. Additionally, we are proud we have not raised rates due to internal operating costs since 2009.
We manage every bottom dollar in our operational expenses as diligently as we can. PVREA has been leveraging technology and training to serve a growing membership with relatively few employees. And we strive to help keep members’ bills lower by offering various energy saving programs.
Members can also help to keep rates stable longer by taking steps to conserve energy. Every kWh the co-op’s members avoid using is one the co-op doesn’t have to buy and deliver. This newsletter and our website provides many great ways and rebate programs to save on electricity and better manage your energy use.
Even with cost-saving measures in place, there comes a time when we must consider passing through an increase in order to keep your co-op solvent in the current economic landscape. PVREA’s overall average rate increase for 2017 will be approximately 1.7%; for the average residential member, this increase translates to a little over $2 per month.
When difficult decisions, such as increases to our rates, need to be made the cooperative way is to be as transparent as possible. To that end, PVREA will be hosting a Rate Hearing on Tuesday, November 29 at 1 p.m. at the Cooperative’s headquarters. Members may also mail or email in comments prior to the rate hearing. The details for the proposed rate changes are available here.
Even with the rate changes, the value of electricity remains very high. Electricity prices have risen less than many other member costs. I am thankful to the Board and all the PVREA employees who have worked diligently these past years to manage costs and keep our electricity affordable, safe and reliable. We have your best interests in mind, and appreciate your membership and engagement with your local co-op.
Happy Thanksgiving from me and the rest of the PVREA team!