- OPALCO keeps rates as low as possible by controlling expenses and pricing electricity at the cost of service.
- Households who struggle to pay their bills are served by several energy assistance programs (including special assistance for those members affected by COVID-19) designed to keep power affordable for all members.
- Despite the higher cost to supply power to 20 rural, remote islands, the average OPALCO member pays about the US average for their electricity and less than most of the world – in dollars. Total Annual Cost of Electric Service Per Member is $1,888. This is lower than WA, US, and Peer average annual bills. This includes facility and usage charges. The WA state average for co-ops is $1,896. Both OPALCO and WA are much lower than the US ($2,277) and Peer ($2,171) Co-op average.
- In carbon, OPALCO members use significantly less than any of their peers. This is due to the low cost hydro-electric power provided by PNGC/BPA.
- In the next 5-10 years, carbon consumption will be the most expensive part of peoples’ power costs.
- Reliablity saves money. OPALCO’s reliability factor is 99.8% (percentage of time that members have power) after decades of undergrounding our distribution cable and storm hardening our system. It costs about four times more to underground than for overhead lines, but it saves costly outage and repair expense.
- OPALCO works with island family resource centers and the Opportunity Council to serve households of low and fixed income with energy assistance programs including Project PAL, Energy Assist, Community Energy Challenge and LIHEAP. Energy Assist, OPALCO’s assistance program that provides a monthly bill credit, continues to increase its award amounts to keep up with rate increases. In 2020, OPALCO added several measures to assist members struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- OPALCO holds public rate workshops periodically and conducts an independent Cost of Service analysis every few years to make sure members pay their fair share.
- The Board anticipates rate increases of 4-6% for the foreseeable future, based on power costs. For the 2021 budget, the Board did not increase rates due to hardships for the members related to the COVID-19 pandemic; this required a delay for some scheduled projects and hiring. The Board is looking at ways to increase our investments in renewable energy to diversify our power supply for the future.
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