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GCEA rate increase set for this May

But there are ways to keep your costs down…

by Mark Reaman

Your Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA) electric bill will see a small jolt starting this summer as a new rate increase will come into effect starting May 1.

The last GCEA rate increase came in May 2016. This latest 2 percent rate increase will be implemented to help cover the rate bump from GCEA’s wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Tri-State raised its rate for wholesale power by 3.7 percent and that translates to an overall estimated increase of $352,000 to the GCEA co-op.

“GCEA’s retail rate increase was designed to recover the amount of revenue needed to offset the additional cost increase from Tri-State going forward,” explained GCEA chief executive officer Mike McBride. “However, it is important to note that while Tri-State increased its rates on January 1, 2017, the GCEA board opted to defer the pass-on of that rate increase until May 1. This means that GCEA absorbed approximately $140,000 of the year 2017’s additional wholesale power expense.”

For residential customers, the increase will amount to a little more than $2 on average. According to GCEA, the average residential member used 652 kWhs per month. In 2016, the average residential member’s bill was $108.55. Based on the average usage of 652 kWhs, the average residential member’s bill will be $111.01 per month, an increase of $2.46 per month under the new rate.

McBride noted that Crested Butte customers would initially see the new rate increase on their June bill. “Members who have electric service in the Crested Butte area will first see a partial impact of the rate adjustment on the bill they receive the first part of June,” McBride said. “This bill will be for approximately 10 days usage under the old rate and 21 days usage under the new rate. The full impact of the rate adjustment to members who have electric service in the Crested Butte area will be reflected on the bill that they receive the first part of July.”

The last GCEA retail rate adjustment was a year ago on May 1, 2016 and overall was 4 percent. McBride said that increase was necessary due to a wholesale rate structure change by Tri-State, planned system improvements and increased operating expenses for GCEA.

McBride emphasized that the electric co-op is always happy to visit with individual members and help with ways customers can better manage their energy use to save costs and help the environment.

“GCEA is currently working to communicate with and educate members on ways they can help reduce GCEA’s overall wholesale power costs, which will keep everyone’s costs lower for the long-term,” McBride said. “One way members can help lower GCEA’s overall wholesale power costs is to reduce their electric use during GCEA’s on-peak hours of 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. GCEA pays more for power during this time because that is when power is most in demand and requires more generating resources. Any electric load that can be shifted off-peak has the potential to save considerable costs over the long term. Members are encouraged to contact GCEA for more information on how they can make a difference.

“Those members who are willing to take a few steps to shift some of their usage from on-peak to off-peak hours could possibly recognize some savings on their power bill by choosing the optional time-of-use rate,” McBride continued. “Even if a member doesn’t choose the time of use rate, they can help us keep rates down for everyone by shifting usage off-peak, especially if they try to reduce usage in the two to three hours after sunset.”

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