Canadian Valley customers to see rate increase
Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative sent a letter to its members in December of 2020 to inform them of an upcoming rate increase.
“The proposed new electric rates to be made effective April 1, 2021 and will result in an annual increase in revenues of $1,905,219, or 2.98 %. This increase is mainly to be collected through a change in customer charge and an increase in the kilowatt-hour, or energy charge,” a letter from Canadian Valley to its members said.
Not all are happy with the increase and some customers have aired concerns.
CVEC customer Linda Newby said, “Some of the customers with low usage are insulted that they will be incurring a much larger percentage increase than the bigger customers. For people paying the minimum, the increase will be over 22%.”
CVEC Manager of Member Relations Jarrod VanZant said the fixed cost increase is $5 per month, and this is the first rate increase since 2014. In the past seven years, he added, many things have changed, including the costs of materials, poles, wires, employing workers, and insurance costs.
He explained that Canadian Valley hires a third-party, professional firm based out of Oklahoma City to do a cost of service study and determine if the company's rates are in line with its costs.
“We are very confident in the numbers we put forth this year,” VanZant added. “They are very conservative.”
VanZant also added that because the cooperative is not-for-profit and owned by members, when it shows a profit, those capitol credits at some point will be allocated back to members of the cooperative. Anything that is not necessary for improving the company's plant, he said, is allocated to members based on the rate they're in and the number of kilowatt hours they've purchased.
VanZant said Canadian Valley is one of only two electric cooperatives in the state that is regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. If members are unhappy with a rate increase, they can request a document from CVEC to dispute the increase with the OCC. If 5% of members file a dispute, the corporation commission will then do a full audit and rate review.
According to the letter sent to members, the document must be filed no later than 90 days from the date of the letter.
“At the end of the day, it costs a certain amount to run this business, and we have to recover the base of that,” VanZant said.
He also mentioned the construction of a new headquarters building and an upcoming fiber project the company has planned, wanting to clarify for customers that those projects are not the reason for the rate increase.
“We've simply outgrown our current facility. We've told our members that we'll be able to build this building without a rate increase. That's still true,” he said, adding that the headquarters has been in the works for several years using money saved over more than a decade. “The cost increase is not associated with the fiber project or the headquarters construction.”
Tina Bridenstine is a reporter for The Shawnee News-Star. Contact her at email@example.com.