Individual changes will be based on usage
By Ann McCreary
A three-year rate plan proposed by Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC) calls for decreases for some members and increases for others, but will not result in an overall rate increase for 2016 and 2017.
The third year, 2018, includes a general rate increase of up to 3.5 percent for most customers. The amount of the rate increase is contingent on an anticipated increase in the price of power purchased by OCEC from Bonneville Power Authority (BPA), which will announce its rate increase in October 2017.
OCEC members will receive information about the proposed rates by email or mail, said David Gottula, OCEC general manager. The electric co-op will hold a special meeting for members to discuss rates on July 13 at 7 p.m. in the Winthrop Barn.
The plan calls for shifting rates between the utility’s four “general service classes,” which groups customers according to the amount of power they use on a kilowatt-hour (kWh) basis. The changes in rates would begin on Jan. 1, 2016, and would stay the same in 2017.
The relative increases or decreases in the different classes of customers was determined through a cost-of-service analysis, which evaluates whether current rates reflect the actual cost of providing services and whether rates are distributed equitably among the different rate classes.
That analysis showed that no additional revenue would be needed by OCEC for the next two years, based on the expected price increase for power that OCEC buys from BPA. BPA reviews its wholesale rates every two years.
That price increase, however, won’t be final until later this summer and could be higher than anticipated, said Gottula. Once the actual price of BPA power is known, OCEC can make any adjustments to finalize new rates.
Class determines rate
According to the OCEC rate proposal, Class G1 (average monthly use of 0-1,200 kWh) would see an overall decrease in rates of 6 to 10 percent; Class G2 (average monthly use of 1,200-5,000 kWh) would see an overall 3- to 4-percent increase in rates; Class G3 (average monthly use of 5,000-16,666 kWh) would see no change in existing rates; and Class G4 (average monthly use of 16,666 or higher kWh) would see about 2 percent reduction.
The plan calls for no changes to existing rates for single-phase irrigation customers, and a 1- to 5-percent increase for three-phase irrigators for the first two years.
In 2018, the plan proposes a decrease of 0.2 to 1.5 percent for Class G1; an increase of 2 to 3.5 percent for Class G2; an increase of about 3.5 percent for Class G3; and an increase of about 2 percent for Class G4.
Single-phase irrigation would have a 0- to 2-percent increase and three-phase irrigation would have an increase of about 2 percent.
A survey of OCEC members in 2010 found 63 percent of the members supported subsidizing irrigation rates, which are subsidized at up to 20 percent.
A rate calculator has been set up online to allow customers to determine how their bill would change under the new rates. It is at www.mymethow.info/getmybill2015.php.
Members will need to enter their nine-digit member account number.
People who don’t have Internet access can drop by the OCEC office on West Chewuch Road and staff will assist in calculating their rates. OCEC members can email questions to the manager at email@example.com or call him at 996-2228. Rates are expected to be approved by the OCEC board in September.