YVEA keeps rates the same for next year

Electric utility plans to absorb cost increases for 2009


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View Yampa Valley Electric Association rates at www.yvea.com.

— Yampa Valley Electric Association won't increase rates next year, utility officials said.

"In 2008, the Yampa Valley Electric Board voted to absorb a $1.28 million rate increase from the association's power provider - Xcel Energy," Larry Covillo, YVEA president and general manager, said in a news release. "To assist our member consumers in this unsettled economic environment, the association projects that no increase in rates will be required next year."

For example, the group will keep residential rates at $12.50 a month and nearly 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

"We are, I guess, what you would call very frugal around here," Covillo said in an interview. "We watch our expenses, and we look at things, and we think - especially with the times the way they are and the economy not doing as well as anybody would like, we will do the best we can and continue to absorb the rate increases the best we can."

The YVEA board also approved the 2009 construction and operating budget, which projects the association will invest $5.8 million in plant additions and replacements, bringing the total utility plant value to $112 million by the end of 2009, the release stated.

"That's our estimate of what we have," Covillo said. "In that $5.8 million, there is money for construction of customer line service, and : part of that is what we expect to do for what we call system improvements and betterments - replacing equipment and upgrading equipment, meeting the growing load and those types of things."

The association expects a below-normal construction season and projects a modest growth of 1.2 percent, or 357 new consumers, the release stated.

That would bring the peak number of consumers served to 26,561.

Covillo said the decision not to increase rates wouldn't harm YVEA's operations for those customers.

"What we're estimating is, we'll have a good year next year, so we think we can do that without affecting any of our service," he said.


George Danellis 8 years, 4 months ago

Yes, we are very fortunate to have a seemingly fiscally sound electric co-op that provides us with reliable electrical power at such low rates.

However, given that the power is primarily generated by coal (the balance is much cleaner, but still fossil derived natural gas), which is the 'dirtiest' of greenhouse gas emitting fuels, it is confusing to me that greater efforts are not made to assist co-op members reduce their electricity consumption in the first place. This is especially true for those members who are challenged paying their bills, which YVEA has often said number more than 15% of their customers during the winter months. Raising electricity rates slightly in response to rising costs actually performs a vital service to us as members: it begins to train us that our electricity is priced artificially low and that we need to begin to make cost-effective adjustments at home and work for the coming higher price of electricity. This would also incentivize more affluent members to seek renewable energy options that would lessen carbon emissions and at the same time reduce the increasing burden on YVEA's transmission lines.

Because when carbon emissions begin finally to be valued more rationally, you can be sure that our rates are only going one direction: up. And then what of these folks having a hard time paying their bills? They will likely be joined by many more co-op members and I know that this is not the goal of YVEA.

In order to better serve their members, the well-intentioned executives and board members at YVEA would be wise to re-tool their mission statement and core values to include conservation and the carbon emissions created by electricity use in the valley.


Fred Duckels 8 years, 4 months ago

fairlysure: Wouldn't nuclear and hydropower be a solution? I'm "fairly" sure that they won't meet your agenda either.


public_thoughts 8 years, 4 months ago

Nuclear isn't a part of many people's or utilities' "agendas" right now because it too expensive to construct and maintain a nuclear plant. That is until some type of carbon tax, or cap and trade system makes fossil fuels more expensive and nuclear can start to compete from a financial bottom line. Then you step in the political mess.

Hydropower is a different story.  It is relatively cheap and highly under-utilized especially on the small and micro scales.  Retrofits and increased usage of existing dams is certainly fiscally worthwhile, but new large dam construction is very unlikely in the United States due to political and ecological water issues.

Higher energy prices are on the horizon and YVEA is preparing for them even as they fulfill their stated mission to give us another year of lowest possible energy prices.  Meanwhile they are going to develop a survey to get the customer-owners of the utility to give direction on how to deal with future energy issues.

Energy efficiency will eventually be on the "agenda" of anyone interested in meeting energy demand at lowest cost.  It is usually much cheaper to reduce electric loads through easy efficiency gains than to build any type new power production facility or transmission infrastructure.

 We will have energy issues to resolve in the future and we will need to keep all our options on the table.  What we need now is an increasing and open dialogue.  YVEA is going to follow the lead of the customers.  What energy future do you want to see?

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