Power Costs, Maintaining and Investing in Our Infrastructure, and Increased Cost of Doing Business Drive 6.1.22 Rate Increase
One of the responsibilities of operating an electric system is to provide safe, affordable, and reliable service at a reasonable rate. At Yampa Valley Electric Association (YVEA), our rates have remained among the lowest amongst co-ops for many years. While it is never favorable to raise rates, our Board of Directors has conducted a cost-of-service study and found it is necessary to increase rates in order to adequately operate a safe and reliable electric system.
As virtually all aspects of today’s cost of living continue to rise, YVEA has done its best to avoid cost of service adjustments. We have experienced steep increases to our cost to do business (materials, labor, etc.) To remain fiscally healthy and ensure fairness across rate classes, our Board of Directors has approved a rate change. Starting on July 1st, 2022, these rate changes will appear on our members’ bills.
Below are some frequently asked questions, rate charts, and a link to May's GM Column in CCL.
The rate classes that will be impacted are Small General Service, Medium General Service, Outdoor Lighting, and Irrigation. Please see the charts below for more details:
Cost-of-service studies (COSS), which are utilized by many utilities, provide a methodology for validating whether the association’s rates accurately collect enough revenue to cover electric service expenses and maintain sufficient margins to manage emergencies and maintain the distribution system. The COSS also shows us whether the rates for each customer class (residential, commercial, and industrial, for example) are adequately covering the costs of service, fuel, and equipment to serve those members in that specific class. For example, a member who uses large amounts of power requires more distribution equipment than a small user. Our goal is that everyone pays their fair share. Power System Engineering’s (PSE) study concluded that our rates must be adjusted to cover the rising cost of doing business and distribute the costs to our members on a more equitable basis.
Several factors that went into this decision. Here are the main drivers for the rate increase:
- Power Supply Costs: Xcel is increasing its wholesale power rates by over 8% year over year to help align with its $1 billion transmission infrastructure plan. Wholesale power costs comprise almost two-thirds of all YVEA expenses, so this increase has especially important impacts on YVEA’s rates.
- Maintaining and investing in our infrastructure, which includes:
- Construction Workplan –Every year, we invest millions of dollars back in the system, which improves our system reliability for all members
- Wildfire Mitigation – As our summers see less precipitation, we need to make sure our system helps to aid in the prevention of wildfires. This includes tree trimming projects, installing more electronic reclosures, and upgrades to our system so we can switch to Fire Protection Mode as quickly as needed.
- Investing in a responsive grid – We are continually upgrading our system to decrease the frequency, duration, and response time of outages, and the only way to achieve this is by investing in digital technologies. We are building a smarter grid that will help to provide even greater reliability to our members.
- Rising cost of doing business: Just like our members, we are seeing increased costs that are affecting how we operate, and our dollar is not going as far as it once was. For us to continue to successfully run YVEA and deliver safe, reliable, and affordable power, we need to take these costs into account when budgeting for materials purchased, maintaining our fleet, hiring and retaining skilled staff who can help us maintain and support our infrastructure, and the increased cost of living, to name a few of the factors that make up the rising costs of doing business.
YVEA last raised rates in 2020.
As a not-for-profit co-op, we give our profits back to our members, and this happens in the form of Capital Credits. Our profit margins are not going towards bonuses or dividends to shareholders – it goes back to our members, the rate payers.
Yes. Please see the charts below for details:
As a member of YVEA, you invest in the co-op every time you pay your bill. This collective investment in the co-op benefits you and the community immediately and over time. So what exactly is this monthly investment and how do you benefit from it? The System Access Cost is a monthly investment that helps your co-op cover the basic costs associated with maintaining the overall electric system. Combatting cyber security threats, and maintaining poles, wires, substations, and co-op equipment takes strategic planning and significant resources. The System Access Cost essentially ensures that all equipment operates properly, and staff is trained and ready so the lights turn on when you need them. As a not-for-profit electric cooperative, we believe the operational costs should be spread fairly and equitably across all segments of our membership, depending on the size of equipment and level of electricity use. This is why every member pays a System Access Cost each month to cover basic operational costs of their service type. This monthly investment ensures you have access to safe, reliable, and affordable power when you need it.
If you visit https://www.yvea.com/energy-hero we have tips and tricks on ways where members can help fight energy waste. During our colder months, the two biggest energy wasters we see are electric heat tape and space heaters. Our Energy Hero page offers advice on how best to use these two products while also helping to lower your winter bill.
There are several options. Your best one is to call our Member Services team at 970-879-1160. They can work with you on paying your bill, advise you on our Budget Billing process, or help you get in contact with local agencies offering assistance. The bottom line is – don’t wait to ask for help. We want to help our members, so please call us.
The YVEA Board of Directors considers necessary rate changes each year. We anticipate another rate change in mid-2023 to match the proposed rate increase from our wholesale electricity provider, Xcel Energy.