SO. COLORADO — The San Isabel Electric Association has announced in their latest newsletter that the cost of electricity will be going up in the coming year, effective beginning the first of January 2014. The price of electricity has been held relatively steady for the last five years by the company; however the rising wholesale cost, up fifteen percent in the same amount of time, has become too great for the SIEA to bear without a rate increase. The last rate increase was a partial pass through increase of two percent in 2009. As a member-owned and non-profit corporation, the rate increase serves only to maintain the stability of the company and allow it to continue providing service to users, not to increase financial performance for the sake of it. One of the changes included is an increased access charge, which means that it will now cost more for the privilege of being able to use electricity, regardless of how much is actually used. The board has approved charging an access fee of up to $24 per month. The access charge helps to cover the fixed costs the SIEA has to pay in order to maintain the meter, service drop, transformer, the wire and poles, and other equipment vital to keep electricity available. The goal of raising the access fee is to even out the cost of what the company pays to supply the electricity in the first place. The alternative to raising the access rate would be to pass all the costs on to consumers in the form of rate increases, and some would end up paying more than others because they use more electricity. The board has also approved increasing the cost for electricity actually used, implementing a “declining block rate” structure. This method means that the higher the usage level of electricity, the cheaper it will be. The proposed new rates for basic residential access are in two tiers. For Tier 1, electricity will be $.014 for the first 800 kWh used per month. Additional energy usage will fall into Tier 2 and will cost $0.11 per additional kWh each month. The cost per kWh will increase by one cent in each tier in the summer months, when energy usage is higher as people try to cool off their homes with air conditioning units. The average residential electricity bill will increase by 9.5 percent as a result of these changes, although the SIEA notes that the change in structure may mean a lower overall electric bill for some people. Non-residential users, including accounts such as Time of Use, Commercial, and Industrial will also see adjustments to their electric bills, with specific rates available at all SIEA offices or online at www.siea.com. The SIEA has an entire section of their website dedicated to helping you lower your energy usage and therefore your electric bill. To find out more about energy efficiency, visit the website and look through the Energy Efficiency Services section or visit www.togetherwesave.com. For more information about the changes, visit the SIEA website online or an office located in Pueblo West, La Veta, Rye, Trinidad, or Walsenburg.
By Bill Knowles Huerfano County — An early spring snowstorm knocked out