By Ann McCreary
The Okanogan County Electric Cooperative recently approved a new rate structure and selected a new board member.
The rate plan readjusts rates among the utility’s four “general membership classes,” which groups customers according to the amount of power they use. Rates will decrease for some customers and increase for others, but will not result in an overall rate increase in 2016 and 2017.
The rate plan developed by OCEC calls for a general rate increase of up to 3.5 percent in 2018, contingent on an anticipated increase in the price of power purchased from Bonneville Power Authority, which will announce its rate increase in October 2017.
The board decided at its Sept. 28 meeting to leave implementation of the 2018 rates until later, said Curtis Edwards, OCEC board president.
Edwards said the board selected Alan Watson to fill a seat held by David Gens, who is moving from the area.
“We had a roster of six well-qualified candidates, and the sort of happy problem of having to choose one,” Edwards said.
Watson is a retired certified public accountant who moved to the Methow Valley about four years ago. He is a member of the boards of Methow Trails and the Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation.
Based on the rate plan adopted by the OCEC board, Class G1 (average monthly use of 0-1,200 kWh) would see an overall decrease in rates of 6-10 percent; Class G2 (average monthly use of 1,200-5,000 kWh) would see an overall 3-4 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. A 2010 survey of OCEC customers found the majority supports subsidizing irrigation rates.