In the early 1980s, the first mobile telephones were introduced to the public. If you remember these first-generation mobile devices then you know they were large, clunky, unreliable, and terribly expensive. They provided less service at a higher cost. Compare that to the sleek, glass rectangles we carry around in our pockets today. With investments in technology and infrastructure, reliability has improved, and capabilities have expanded, dramatically improving the value you receive for what you pay.
How does this relate to Craighead Electric Cooperative (CECC)? Your local electric cooperative, like the wireless communication industry, has dramatically increased the level of service it provides while keeping costs at a reasonable level. CECC has made great investments over the years to help members receive greater value from their electric service. These investments include new power lines, more substations, smarter metering systems, better software, a networking infrastructure, a solar farm, a mobile app, better-trained staff and more. Each of these investments results in improved quality of service for you.
Many of these investments made over the years have effectively shielded our members from rate adjustments for electric service. The previous rate increase in 2010 came with a prediction from rate advisors that another increase would likely be necessary in 2017. While we were able to put off that rate increase for five years, a rate change is now necessary to continue providing our members with the level of reliability that they expect.
A rate adjustment is not a decision that your board of directors makes without much investigation and deliberation. After all, 100% of the board and 70% of CECC employees are members of the cooperative themselves. Following the guidance of third-party rate advisors and at the recommendation of CECC staff, the board voted unanimously to seek a rate change to increase systemwide revenue by 9.3%. CECC has filed for the rate change with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC). Pending approval by the commission, the rate change will go into effect during the October 2022 billing cycle.
When you consider that inflation has gone up 36% in the time since the last rate change, a 9.3% increase goes to show how efficient the cooperative model is at providing the best service at the cheapest price. While the average residential electric bill will increase by about $14.13, from $112.45 to $126.58, the new rates will still compare favorably to other rural utilities in Arkansas and across the nation.
The new rates will affect each member differently. Here are some ways to minimize the impact of the proposed rates.
The per-kWh charge will have a moderate increase for all rate classes. The best way to reduce your personal energy costs are to use fewer kWh, but that is easier said than done. There are two ways to use less energy: Energy Efficiency and Conservation. Investing in energy efficiency measures allows you to reap the same benefit (comfort, cooking, lighting, etc.) but use less energy to achieve it. For example, air sealing and re-insulating your attic could keep you just as comfortable without requiring your air conditioner to work as hard to maintain the temperature in your home. Conservation is simply requiring less energy in the first place. A penny saved is a penny earned, after all. Cleverly conserve energy by doing things like turning your thermostat up a few degrees in the summer but turn on your ceiling fans to maintain your comfort.
Service Availability Charge
This fee (also known as “minimum bill” or “meter fee”) will impact the typical residential member, especially those who have multiple meters, the most. Members can expect to see the availability charge increase on a per meter basis, bringing the charge to the current market standard. Members with auxiliary meters, like on a shop or barn, should take time to reevaluate the cost of the secondary meters and consider tying adjacent meters together. For example: A house with a nearby shop could get a quote (or three) from an electrician to run electrical service from the main breaker panel of the house to the shop’s panel and retire the secondary meter. Suppose the availability charge of the shop’s meter is $360 a year and the quote from the electrician to do the work is, say, $1200, then you divide the cost of the work by the annual cost of the meter to get your payback period. Retiring the secondary meter would pay for itself in 3.3 years.
The monthly price of security lighting will have a small increase. Review how many streetlights you have, if any, and see if any of them can be replaced with floodlights on your house. Self-maintained area lighting must be installed and maintained by the member but can be cheaper in the long run.
If you have and questions or concerns about the rate change or how it could affect you, please contact Craighead Electric Cooperative at 1-800-794-5012, email firstname.lastname@example.org