• Power supplier notifies LPEA of 2017 wholesale electricity price increase

    Cooperative looking at ways to absorb costs/keep member bills down

    La Plata Electric Association’s (LPEA) primary power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, has notified the cooperative that wholesale power rates will increase 4.33 percent in 2017, but it is not yet known whether this will trigger a rate increase for LPEA’s member-customers.

    The LPEA Board of Directors will review options for its member rate structures at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Oct. 17, at First Southwest Bank, 249 Navajo Trail, Pagosa Springs. The meeting, open to the public, begins at 9 a.m.

    “We are very committed to keeping our members informed,” said Mike Dreyspring, LPEA CEO. “Rate development is a complicated process, but we’re happy to answer questions all along the way.”

    LPEA is in the midst of its annual budget development, the results of which will determine whether or not the cooperative can absorb Tri-State’s rate increase, or need to pass some or all of it on to consumers. In anticipation of Tri-State’s decision, LPEA staff and board have spent the better part of 2016 extensively exploring various rate design concepts to determine the best solutions and ensure reliable service to members, but keep bills as low as possible.

    “Ultimately we believe LPEA will look to Time-of-Use (TOU) rate structures for our entire residential membership,” said Dan Harms, manager of rates, technology and energy policy. “We have enhanced our TOU program and most members already can save 5 percent before even trying to shift their energy usage to the off-peak time periods. Members who make a concerted effort can save up to 40 percent.”

    According to Harms, by researching past consumer electricity usage information, LPEA staff can calculate what members would have paid had they been on the TOU rate for the past year. Members are encouraged to call LPEA (970.247.5786) and confer with Energy Management Advisors to learn more.

    “The good news at this juncture is, since Tri-State is a cooperative just like LPEA, we along with many of the other distribution cooperatives, were able to work together to share our individual stories about what a rate increase means to us and our members,” said Ron Meier, manager of engineering and member relations, noting that during Tri-State’s budget and rate setting process, started earlier this year, rate increases were projected to be higher than the final 4.33 percent increase. “Rate structure is very complex for both Tri-State and its member cooperatives, but Tri-State found a way to lower their need for a larger rate increase for 2017.”

    LPEA members interested in the process of rate development are encouraged to attend up-coming Board meetings. Final adoption of next year’s rates is expected to occur in November. Agendas for all LPEA Board of Director meetings are posted at www.lpea.coop. For additional information, contact LPEA at 970.247.5786.

    LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with nearly 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible.