East Central Energy Board of Directors approve rate adjustment

East Central Energy (ECE) members will see an adjustment to their rates and the cost of basic service on their electric bill due in April.

The ECE Board of Directors approved the rate adjustment after reviewing staff recommendations and the results of a cost of service study conducted by independent rate analysts.

The adjustment, implemented in March, includes an increase in the residential cost of basic service to $25.14. The kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy charge will change to 13.8 cents per kWh June through August and 11.5 cents per kWh September through May. For the average residential member using 931 kWh per month without load management, the increase will be about 5.58 percent overall.

With this adjustment, the first since 2008, ECE has moved to a cost-based rate structure. The cooperative’s fixed costs of building and repairing the equipment that’s needed to provide electricity to members are being recovered through the cost of basic service. The kWh electric energy charge mainly covers the cost of the electricity used by members.

Town hall meetings have been scheduled to provide members with additional information about the rate adjustment.

• March 7, 6:30-8 p.m., Town of Superior Town Hall, 4917 South State Rd. 35, Superior, WI

• March 8, 1:30-3p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m., ECE Braham Headquarters, 412 Main Ave. N., Braham, MN

• March 15, 10-11:30 a.m., online forum at eastcentralenergy.com

“The need to raise costs to our members is not something we take lightly,” said ECE President/CEO Steve Shurts. “Since our last rate adjustment, several factors have combined to drive up the costs of generating and distributing electricity. We are paying 21 percent more for purchased power, which makes up 60 percent of our expense, and our fixed and variable costs have risen over nine percent since 2008.”

Shurts said ECE has taken many actions internally to reduce budgeted controllable costs. Retirements have led to revamped job duties, resulting in a labor force reduction of 6.3 percent since 2008. Savings have been realized by using innovative programs such as summary billing and retread tires on trucks. The cooperative is holding off on investments in new technology, like advanced metering, and is making full use of technology already installed.

ECE will work with members to minimize the impact of the new rates through programs like Storage Water Heating and Cycled Air. They allow the co-op to purchase power at low-demand times, when it’s less expensive, and pass the savings on to members. Discounts and rebates on energy-efficient equipment, appliances, and lighting help make these options affordable.

Tips to help reduce energy use

• Adjust your thermostat. Turn it down before you leave the house in the winter and turn it up when you’re air conditioning.

• Turn lights off when they’re not in use.

• Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). They use 70 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Remember, they must be recycled.

• Be energy conscious when purchasing appliances. Look for the ENERGY STAR label.

• Check out the Budget Billing program. It allows members to pay a monthly amount based on their average annual energy use to avoid bill fluctuations.

• Seal air leaks around windows and doors.

• Keep your refrigerator and freezer door seals in good repair.

• Unplug energy phantoms (appliances that have a glowing clock or digital display even when they are off).

• Wash clothes in cold water when possible. Hang them to dry.

• Limit use of the heat dry setting on your dishwasher.

• Take short showers rather than baths.

• Cook with your microwave instead of your stove or oven.

• Visit eastcentralenergy.com to order an Energy-Saving Water Kit for just $5.

ECE is here to help. Call 1-800-254-7944 or visit our website for more information.