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Rate change to affect Time-of-Use Program

By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN

Due to the proposed new rate structure established by Tri-State Generation & Transmission, La Plata Electric Association’s (LPEA) wholesale power supplier, LPEA has been required to alter its Time-of-Use (TOU) program for 2013. The program is, however, not going away at this time.

“There’s been some misinterpretation of what we meant by ‘dramatic change’ to the Time-of-Use program,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO, who stressed LPEA’s commitment to its members.

“Time-of-Use still will exist under Tri-State’s new rate structure, but as we analyze it, we’re seeing that it is just not going to be as financially beneficial for our members to participate. We actually are beginning to see that time-of-use programs, at least in the Tri-State system, are not as beneficial as they once were, and that may very well be the future of systems that have optimized their electrical use periods one way or another.”

Currently, TOU rates take into consideration seasonal “peak” electrical use periods and reward participants with lower rates for using electricity during “off-peak” hours. Tri-State has been charging LPEA less for purchasing electricity in off-peak hours, and the co-op has then passed that savings on to customers who have signed up for the Time-of-Use program. LPEA has been a leader among Tri-State’s 44 distribution cooperatives in balancing the energy “demand,” which has over the years helped reduce Tri-State’s costs and need for construction of new power generation facilities.

“Tri-State now does not need as much off-peak sales, so its new proposed rate structure eliminates the off-peak hours in the middle of the day for all except those who have electric thermal storage (ETS) space heating systems,” said Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services. “As a result, we suspect that there will be little financial incentive under the new rate structure for most of our TOU customers to continue to try to shift their heavy demand for electricity to the off-peak hours. It simply is no longer needed.”

Because LPEA has been promoting and selling the ETS heating systems to its customers for many years, the cooperative encouraged Tri-State to support those who had invested in an ETS system. ETS is an electric space heating system that requires a significant electricity demand to “charge” or heat ceramic bricks in off-peak hours, bricks that in turn provide heat as needed 24 hours per day.

To that end, Tri-State agreed to a special on-peak/off-peak TOU structure for ETS owners, which includes an off-peak rate for electricity used in the middle of the day.

LPEA has, in turn, developed two separate TOU programs, one for regular TOU customers and one now called ETS Advantage, for those with ETS heating systems. Under both proposed TOU programs, off-peak hours won’t change throughout the year, plus every Sunday and more holidays will enjoy the off-peak rate.

Proposed rates and TOU hours are as follows:

Standard Time-of-Use rates:

• 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour during off-peak period.

• 14.4 cents per kilowatt hour during on-peak period.

• Base charge: $20.50 per month.

Off-peak hours year-round:

• Monday-Saturday, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

• All day Sunday and all day on major holidays (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas).

ETS Advantage rates (for those with ETS heating systems):

• 7.3 cents per kilowatt hour during off-peak day period.

• 5 cents per kilowatt hour during off-peak night period.

• 14.4 cents per kilowatt hour during on-peak period.

• Base Charge: $20.50 per month.

ETS Advantage off-peak hours year-round:

•Monday-Saturday.

• Off-peak day: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

•Off-peak night: 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Off-peak night rate applies:

• All day Sunday and all day on major holidays (New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas).

2013 Residential general service (regular) rates:

• 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

• Base Charge: $20.50 per month.

“We realize the revised TOU program will not be for everyone,” said Munro, noting that letters have been sent to all TOU customers with additional information. “We want our members to be on the rate that is most beneficial for them and we will be working one-on-one with members to find the best solution going forward.”

For further information on the new TOU programs, contact LPEA’s Corporate Services Department, 247-5786.

This story was posted on December 6, 2012.