Electrical cooperative asks members how best to increase ratesLake Country Power, the electricity supplier for much of rural Northeastern Minnesota is asking its member customers to decide exactly how they would like their electrical rates raised. They don’t, however, have the choice not to raise rates.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The electricity supplier for much of rural Northeastern Minnesota is asking its member customers to decide exactly how they would like their electrical rates raised. They don’t, however, have the choice not to raise rates.
All 43,000-plus members of the Lake Country Power Co-op should have their ballots in hand by now, after mailings went out early last week.
Members can choose between three options in what will be an advisory vote to the Lake Country Power Board.
+ Option 1 essentially decreases rates for actual kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month, but increases facilities charges to $42 per month, up from the current $22.50 per month.
+ Option 2 decreases the kWh charge only slightly, and raises the monthly facility charge to $32 per month.
+ Option 3 increases the kWh charge and raises the monthly facilities charge to $27.50 per month.
Board members are recommending members vote for Option 1, because they say it is the fairest way for members to pay for electricity.
“In 2011, we sent 55,000 bills that had zero electrical usage,” LCP General Manager Greg Randa said. “It costs us $42 a month [on average] to maintain service to a place each month. They pay $22.50 for their facilities charge, which means we’re short $19.50.”
Randa explains the first option as “equalizing the cost of distribution,” making the point that it costs the cooperative a tremendous amount of money to maintain the many miles of electrical lines to its mostly rural customers. By increasing the facilities charge, each customer pays the average cost of getting electricity to his or her home.
While most people who live in their homes year round could see decreases under Option 1, those who don’t use electricity each month will see substantial increases.
Member Patrick Stevens, who only lives in his Moose Lake home part-time, doesn’t like the board’s preferred option because he thinks it unfairly raises rates on seasonal, part-time and recreational users while likely lowering the power bills of people who actually use a greater amount of energy.
Members are encouraged to either mail their ballots by June 5 or bring their ballots to the annual meeting Saturday, June 9, in the Cromwell High School gymnasium. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
For more information on Lake Country Power or the upcoming vote, visit www.lakecountrypower.coop or call 1-800-421-9959. For opinions on the upcoming vote, turn to page A4. The Pine Journal also previously published an opinion piece by LCP Board member Sherm Liimatainen.