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OPALCO Board to Consider Adjustment to Smooth Billing Process After Extreme Cold Temps Caused High Bills

The extreme cold temperatures in late December caused power bills to go up significantly in January – in some cases, doubling. The basic explanation is that more kilowatt hours were used to maintain home heating and water heater temperatures – but that’s not the whole story. OPALCO includes an Energy Charge Adjustment (ECA) on members bills every month to true up the difference between budget and actual on kilowatt hours sold. It’s usually a credit on member bills but, in December-January billing cycle, high demand charges from BPA caused a surcharge that contributed to high member bills. On February 17th, the OPALCO Board will discuss using a smoothing methodology to prevent spikes in the ECA.

After hearing from members who were concerned about their high bills and some discussion with board members, General Manager Foster Hildreth suggested adjusting the formula of the ECA to smooth out the bigger surcharges – and credits – that occur with anomalies in weather and therefore usage. “We can do better,” said Hildreth, “and listening to our membership is what makes our co-op better.”

Members can listen in on that discussion at the regular meeting of the Board via Zoom on Thursday, February 17th. Member comments and questions are taken at the beginning of each meeting.

Staff are also holding a town hall session via Zoom on Monday, February 7th to go into more detail on this high bill event, explain line items on the bill, how to understand your usage on SmartHub, and ways to make your home more efficient to weather the twin storms of extreme weather events and the rising cost of power. Register for OPALCO meetings online: