Beginning in January, our electric bills will go up 5% and there will be a couple of new line items. The board-approved rate increase for 2016 will be spread equally across the facilities and energy charges (see below). As a result of the 2015 Low Income Needs Assessment, members will see a line item on our bills to fund a new program to assist qualified members in need. The line item will assess $0.0005 per kilowatt hour, which comes out to an average forty-five cents per month for residential members.
The other new line item is a place holder for a future demand charge. The demand line item will show $0.00 to prepare members for the demand charge that will eventually be charged to all members, to reflect the actual charges OPALCO is charged on the power bill from Bonneville Power Administration. No date has been set for the start of demand charges.
Residential members make up the majority of OPALCO members. Here’s how the changes will look beginning in January for the average residential member:
- Facility Rate increases from $38.90 to $40.54
- Energy Rates (< 3,000 kWh – winter): $0.0855 $ to 0.0892
- Energy Assistance Program line item: $0.0005 per kilowatt hour (average of $0.45)
- Demand Charge line item: $0.00 (placeholder for future charge)
To review the budget and rate discussions in detail, all board materials and budget reports are available online in our Resource Library (Home / Resource Library …). A recent article on rates is also available online, in the Newsroom/
As a co-op, OPALCO’s budget is built to meet the cost of service, which is higher than most other utilities given our remote island communities connected to the mainland by submarine cables. During the past two years of revenue shortfalls, we’ve tightened the belt along the way and delayed projects and hiring to meet the need. In 2016, we project a stable revenue year as the adjustments we’ve made for changing energy usage and weather patterns are built in to budget assumptions.
We are not alone. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for all utilities in the region. OPALCO projects smoother sailing ahead as we adjust to the new weather norms, get through the final two years of our submarine cable replacement project, major upgrades to our communications infrastructure, Rock Island’s start-up operations begin to level out and we begin to add new electrical load through fuel switching initiatives.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation during the bumps!