WESTERN SAN JUANS – The San Miguel Power Association will be hosting public hearings over the next two months to discuss a proposed rate increase that will apply to all member rate classes within its system starting on June 1.
SMPA announced on March 28 that the rural electric cooperative is proposing to implement its first rate increase since April 2009 after its power providing cooperative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Assoc., handed down a 4.8 percent increase in the cost of wholesale power last January.
“To maintain quality, reliability and integrity of the service we provide, it was necessary to adjust our prices,” said SMPA General Manager Kevin Ritter. “When setting these new rates our board of directors had to find solutions for the increased costs of living and doing business and ensure our rates are fair and equitable, all while making sure SMPA continues to provide dependable service at an affordable price.”
The proposed changes for SMPA's access charge include an increase ranging from $2 to $6 for various rate classes. Despite these increases, according to SMPA, it is still well below what was recommended after a thorough cost of service study.
The proposed changes for SMPA's energy charge include a small increase for the demand rate classes of less than $0.02.
The proposed changes for SMPA's demand charge include a decrease to $14 for both the general service demand and three phase demand rate classes. The other important change to SMPA's demand rate is the adjustment to the criteria that determines if a member is placed on the demand rate.
“Our board was very responsive to our members' concerns about the demand rate and its effect on their pocketbook,” Ritter said. “As a result, a major part of our cost of service study was reviewing the current demand rate structure and reworking it to be effective and fair for the entire membership.”
Previously, the co-op placed members whose demand met or exceeded 20 kilowatts (kW) on to the demand rate for a 12-month period. Members were given a 60-day grace period to work with SMPA staff and an electrician to find ways to reduce their demand and ultimately stay on the non-demand rate.
The proposed changes will now allow the member to decide if they would like to be on the demand rate. Members with a monthly demand between 20 kW and 40 kW will have the option of remaining on the non-demand rate or changing to the demand rate. Members with a monthly demand in excess of 40 kW will be placed directly on the demand rate.
“In some cases, the demand rate can be beneficial for members that use a very high amount of kilowatt hours, but only have a moderately high demand. It's all a matter of making sure a member is on the correct rate,” said Ritter.
SMPA will hold public hearings about the proposed rate changes at their upcoming board meetings scheduled for April 24 at 9:30 a.m. at the Nucla office and May 31at 9:30 a.m. at the Ridgway office. SMPA has also scheduled the following community education forums where they will explain the proposed changes in detail:
• Tuesday, April 17, from 5-7 p.m. at the Wilkinson Public Library in Telluride.
• Tuesday, May 15, from 5-7 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center in Ouray.
• Tuesday, May 22, from 5-7 p.m. at the Naturita Elementary School in Naturita.