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By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN
The La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) Board of Directors Monday gave preliminary approval for an average electric rate increase of approximately 11 percent.
Specific increases will depend on the rate classification of each residential, commercial and industrial customer.
The average residential bill of $88.40 will notice an increase of approximately $11.20 per month.
LPEA must give at least a 30-day notice of proposed rate changes, and during that time will accept member comments to those proposed changes. The board is scheduled to give final approval at its next board meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 19, with the new rates to go into effect Jan. 1.
To explain the rate increase, the LPEA Board of Directors is hosting a series of rate information meetings for members across its service territory:
The Pagosa meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center, 451 Hot Springs Blvd.
In general, LPEA’s rate increase and changes to its rate structure are a direct result of the changes Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, LPEA’s wholesale power supplier, has made to its rate structure. Tri-State is also facing increased costs for the generation of electricity.?
“Tri-State’s new rate structure has been in the works for almost two years,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “The distribution cooperatives, including LPEA, have done our best to be involved to not only try to understand the new rate structure, but to also try to make it a correct ‘type’ of rate structure. It has been a long and challenging task.”
According to Munro, LPEA’s Board of Directors has been active, and still are active, in questioning Tri-State about the new rate structure. The LPEA board has also established a 2013 goal to do the best it can to mitigate the effects of the new Tri-State rate structure and the general rate increase.
“At LPEA we’ve reduced costs with use of new technologies, reduced programs, refinanced debt, and are now about as lean as we can get without impacting quality, reliable service to our members,” added Munro, noting the cooperative also engaged in an independent cost of service study to determine what it actually costs for LPEA to deliver electricity to its members. “Based on the cost of service study, and to maintain all of our financial requirements, we estimate we need an additional $10.3 million in 2013. We have forecasted as tight as we can and will still have to work hard in 2013 to find more savings.”
The increases for each rate classification will be delineated in legal display advertisements in The SUN and online at www.lpea.coop.
For further information, call 247-5786.