ECE Board of Directors approves rate increase, town hall meeting set

East Central Energy (ECE) members will see an increase in the residential cost of basic service to $25.14 on their electric bill due in April.

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

The adjustment, implemented in March, includes a kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy charge 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 change. Locally, they are

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

Call 1-800-254-7944 or visit ECE’s website for more information.

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