Price of Power is Going Up
East Oregonian, April 26, 2011
Umatilla Electric will introduce new rates to customers on Oct. 1
Electric rates are headed up again, Umatilla Electric Cooperative members learned at the 74th annual meeting Saturday at UEC headquarters. Steve Eldrige, general manager and CEO, reported the Bonneville Power Administration has proposed an 8-percent rate increase, on average, for 2011. UEC's increased cost of power will be closer to 11 percent, he said.
"Wholesale energy costs make up close to 63 percent of UEC's total cost of operation," Eldrige wrote in his annual report. "With the rising costs of electric generation, electric transmission, utility regulation and environmental compliance, cost increases are occurring in all aspects of the electric utility business."
The next rate increase will be the first since Jan. 1, 2010, when UEC raised rates 5 percent. At that time, UEC members had enjoyed nine years without a rate bump.
Eldrige said BPA's new rates will go into effect Oct. 1. UEC will receive a set amount of energy from the federal-based hydro system called Tier 1. It will be available at about 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour and will change every two years. All additional energy UEC members need will be at a market price of 5 cents/kwh.
"These circumstances most likely mean that UEC's rates will increase in late 2011 or by the first part of 2012," Eldrige said.
In other business Saturday, cooperative members re-elected three directors to three-year terms. Re-elected were board president Glenn Rohde, and
Districts 6 and 7 board representatives Rose Etta Ansotegui and John Otis.
Unlike investor-owned utilities, UEC is a non-profit organization owned by its consumer-members. A democratic organization by nature, the cooperative conducts its annual meeting each April to update members on the progress made during the year and to conduct director elections.
Annual meetings also provide members with the opportunity to comment and voice concerns before the directors and management staff.
Mario's Basque Barbecue provided lunch, while local volunteers and UEC employees served refreshments. UEC also provided activities for children.
This year's raffle prizes, awarded after the meeting, included home audio and video equipment, power tools, small appliances and four $100 gift certificates redeemable toward their UEC account.
Umatilla Electric Cooperative serves more than 16,200 accounts on nearly 2,200 miles of power lines in Eastern Oregon's Umatilla, Morrow and Union counties.
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