YVEA electricity rates to increase in March
The Yampa Valley Electric Association co-op has announced an increase in electricity rates starting March 1 for electricity usage that will appear on member bills in April.
The nine-member YVEA Board of Directors approved the rate increase unanimously during the Nov. 22 board meeting. The last time YVEA raised rates was in June.
In a news release, YVEA leadership noted the increase in rates is needed due to “power supply rate increases, maintaining and investing in our infrastructure, and the cost of doing business.” Those infrastructure costs range from updating system reliability each year to wildfire-mitigation efforts, such as tree-trimming projects.
“At YVEA, our rates have remained among the lowest amongst co-ops for many years,” the YVEA explained in the release. “As virtually all aspects of today’s cost of living continue to rise, YVEA has done its best to avoid the cost-of-service adjustments. Over this same period, we have experienced steep increases in our cost to do business (materials, labor, etc.).”
The March rate increases will impact small, medium and large general service, irrigation, outdoor area lighting and street lighting. YVEA performed a cost-of-service study earlier this year that showed whether each customer class rate covered the cost of services such as fuel, labor and equipment.
“Based on the study and the 2023 rates from our power suppliers, we are raising rates to distribute costs equitably to our members,” the release states.
YVEA leadership said Xcel Energy, the majority wholesale energy provider of 95% to 96% of the co-op’s electricity supply, is raising its power supply rate by 14% for 2023.
“Wholesale power costs comprise almost two-thirds of all YVEA expenses, so this increase significantly impacts YVEA’s rates,” the release states.
For small general service rates, essentially residential, the monthly “system access cost” will increase in March from the current $39.25 to $45, and usage rate will increase from approximately 10 cents to 11 cents per kilowatt-hour.
For example, looking at a March 2022 bill for a small, 1970s, all-electric powered home in Routt County for a small family using 1,700 kilowatt-hours that month, the family would pay approximately $23 more for electricity in March 2023.
In the medium general service class, or small commercial customers, the system access cost will increase from $48.95 to $60.45 per month, and the kilowatt-hour rate will increase from approximately 9.6 cents to 10.6 cents. YVEA supplied an example that a typical small commercial customer using 2,470 kilowatt-hours per month could see a bill increase of more than $36 per month.
Industrial or larger commercial customers and seasonal irrigation customers will encounter slight rate increases too, with more information available at YVEA.com.
For perspective, average per kilowatt-hour rates for the states surrounding Colorado range from approximately 11.5 to 15 cents. However, that kilowatt-hour comparison does not include monthly service connection rates and associated fees, which can vary widely by utility provider.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential electricity costs per kilowatt-hour in September were 11.9 cents in Wyoming, 12.2 cents in Nebraska, 14.8 cents in Kansas, 14.4 cents in Oklahoma, 15.3 cents in New Mexico, 13.3 cents in Arizona and 11.5 cents in Utah.
The release noted that when YVEA leadership received notice of the Xcel Energy increases for 2023, all YVEA departments were asked to cut their proposed 2023 budgets by 15% to help lessen the impact of power supplier rate increases.
The YVEA board considers rate changes each year and anticipates another rate change in mid-2024 to match the proposed rate increase from the wholesale electricity provider. YVEA leadership noted the vulnerability that wholesale power increases create for the membership of the nonprofit co-op motivated YVEA to request proposals for new power suppliers.
“(YVEA is) seeking long-term contracts that will provide stability for our evolving cooperative,” according to the release. “What we are hoping to gain from this (request for proposals) is the chance to either work with our existing power supplier or a new one.”
YVEA Public Relations Specialist Carly Davidson said YVEA is “still in the review process” and does not have a timeframe for when the power supplier contract decision will be made.
YVEA CEO Steve Johnson said in July that the contract with Xcel, which extends to 2042, requires a five-year notice to completely end the contract, so the soonest a power supply provider switch could happen would be Jan. 1, 2028.
To conserve energy during colder months, YVEA Energy Hero advisors say the two biggest energy wasters are electric heat tape and space heaters.
The YVEA website notes the member-owned electric cooperative serves nearly 27,000 customers across a 7,000 square mile service territory.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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