Central Electric Cooperative is increasing facility charges for 2019 due to increased operating and maintenance costs, and in order to continue providing safe, reliable energy.
How will this change affect my bill?
Residential, single-phase accounts will increase by $6.25 for a monthly facility charge of $59.45. Three-phase accounts will increase by $11.00 for a facility charge of $104.10. (These are the two most common rate structures. There are other rates for irrigation, congested areas, etc. For information on your individual rate, please contact our office.)
The energy charges per kWh and the heat rate are not changing.
When will this change go into effect?
The increase rate took effect January 1, 2019 and is reflected on the January bill mailed in early February 2019.
What is the facility charge?
The facility charge is the monthly minimum needed to cover the costs of providing access to electricity, before any energy is used.
The cooperative incurs expenses such as poles, wires, fleet, labor, and interest in order to build and maintain our electric system and provide customer service. Central Electric serves approximately 1.6 electric meters per mile of line, which means there is a large amount of infrastructure required to bring power to each member. The facility charge helps cover these expenses and ensures that members have access to electricity when they need it.
I only use my service a few times out of the year. Do I still need to pay the facility charge?
The facility charge is required for all services, regardless of energy use. The fixed costs covered by the facility charge are incurred by the cooperative whether the service uses electricity or not.
In order to avoid a facility charge on an unused service, a member can request for the cooperative to remove all equipment at and leading up to that service. Electricity will no longer be available there. If a member chooses to replace the electrical service, he/she will be responsible for the cost to rebuild the service as well as the cost of initially removing it.
Why is the rate increase necessary?
Central Electric’s work plan for 2019 involves several large projects needed to maintain the reliability of our electric system.
In 2019, your cooperative will 1) double the amount of line typically replaced to update the aging power lines, 2) begin a meter replacement project for future cost-savings and reliability, and 3) add an additional employee to assist with the work load.
As a not-for-profit cooperative, electric rates are designed to cover the expenses associated with delivering reliable electric energy. Rates are adjusted only when absolutely necessary.
Is the cooperative managing expenses?
We are always looking for ways to manage costs while keeping service reliable. Some examples include 1) refinancing loans to lower interest rates, 2) utilizing a load management program to save on demand charges (each water heater on load management saves approximately $10/month), 3) joining alliances with material suppliers to increase purchasing power and lower costs, and 4) using federally funded mitigation projects to make improvements on our system.
Our employees also use careful planning, modern equipment and technology to operate as efficiently as possible. For example, Central Electric employs one electric lineman for every 234 miles of power lines that we maintain. This ranks 5th out of all the cooperatives in the state for the most miles of line per line personnel.
How does Central Electric compare with other utilities?
Currently for 2018, the national residential kWh was 12.93 cents, and the South Dakota average was 11.72 cents1. Central Electric’s projected average residential kWh for 2019 is 12.5 cents.
When we think about how often we use electricity, the 24/7 availability, and all the people and equipment needed to deliver it, electricity still remains a good value.
Why has my bill been so high?
Hidden culprits to high bills are space heaters, water tank heaters, plugged-in tractors or vehicles, heat tape, in-floor heat, more lighting due to less daylight, humidifier/dehumidifier, or additional company or people in the home. If you have additional concerns, contact our office, and we can further discuss the usage.
Can I monitor my usage?
Yes! All Central Electric members can view their account information, usage, bill history and more by logging into SmartHub. Sign up or log in at www.centralec.coop.
How can I save money on my electric bill?
Central Electric offers several options to help you save money, including energy efficiency rebates, in-home energy audits, load management, and the “Co-op Connections Discount Card.”
To explore ways on making your home more energy efficient, visit www.centralec.coop or touchstoneenergy.com.
1 U.S. Energy Information Administration. November 2018. www.eia.gov