Making The Right Decision
Right-of-way clearing is the SINGLE most important thing we can do to keep your electricity reliable. We've invested millions of dollars into keeping trees, branches, and brush away from power lines over the past 15 years, and we're seeing the difference.
We've still got a long way to go. Trees keep growing across the 2,916 miles of overhead lines that we maintain. The eight-year clearing cycle we've worked up to is much better than we used to have but needs to be better.
We contract with large companies like Asplundh or Wright Tree to do this work for us. It's hard, dangerous work, and requires a lot of training on trees and equipment to be done right. Nobody wants to do that kind of work for low pay, and with the economy improving, these crews have plenty of employment choices that are less dangerous and pay more.
The bottom line is that the cost of accomplishing the tree-clearing for 2018 has nearly doubled. It's not going to cost less the year after, or the year after that. This is the new reality, and we hope that most of the money is going to the hard-working folks who do this job so well.
With this big increase in a major budget item, among other reasons, we needed a small rate increase to keep your Cooperative financially stable. Your board of directors approved a 4.9 percent rate increase at the November board meeting.
The monthly charge will go up by $7 a month for most of our residential and general service member-customers. This will cover the fixed costs for operating and maintaining the electric system, including buildings and trucks; repaying interest and debt on the capital costs of building and updating power lines with wire, poles, transformers, and meters; plus storm repairs and other maintenance.
Meanwhile, the actual cost of your energy - the kilowatt-hour charge and the Power Supply Cost Recovery factor, will go down a little bit, as power supply costs are forecast to be stable for 2018.
Read more about the board’s decision on page 13 this month, and watch for more information in the months to come.