Our rates will be going up this year. The cost of the electricity we buy from KAMO, our wholesale electricity supplier, is going up due to increases in their costs of transmission of electricity. Those costs are increasing due to the expiration of agreements that they have with other utilities that have been very favorable to us. The new agreements are more costly to KAMO, which in turn must pass those additional costs on to Barry Electric. As these costs go up to your cooperative, it’s obvious that the rates to you, the member, must increase to maintain financial stability of your cooperative.
In addition to the increased costs from KAMO we are faced with an electric distribution system that is aging. Many of the original lines and poles were installed in the 1940’s and must be replaced to insure a reliable supply of electricity to you the member owner. As you can imagine the cost of poles, wire and the labor to install them has increased significantly since the 40’s. As we replace the old poles and wires our total investment in the system goes up which is reflected in the costs of ownership spread out over the next 30 years including interest.
In the last 35 years the rate you pay for electricity as member/owners has increased approximately 2.8% annually. Subtracting from those rates over the years have been various rate rebates and capital credit refunds that actually reduced those rates even more. It’s estimated that the actual rates our members have paid over that last 35 years have only increased at approximately less than 2% per year.
In order to make the rate increase fair and equitable the board of directors has commissioned a cost of service study. That study reviewed by the board at their December meeting indicated that beginning February 1, 2018, the average residential meter rate adjustment will be less than $11/month. After receiving your March 1st electric bill based upon February electric usage, call or come by the coop headquarters and we can work with you to determine how much the rate change affects you individually.
The final decision on rates is made each year by your membership elected Board of Directors who are also rate paying members that are affected just as you are. We are committed to enhancing the electric system to meet your needs for reliable power while at the same time keeping your electric and fiber network rates as low as possible. Please note the increased electric rates are due to increased costs of providing electric service and are covered by your electric rates. The costs for goBec fiber network, our telecommunications subsidiary, are covered by the rates goBEC charges only those members who utilize those services.
Fortunately, your not-for-profit electric Co-op offers options to control your costs through energy efficiency rebates and many customers have found it to be an advantage to pre-pay their electric bills because they become more aware of their energy use and therefore use less.