Over the past several weeks CDN readers have expressed their opinions on a range of topics related to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s electric service rates as well as REC’s policies related to financing educational scholarships throughout its service area.
CDN asked REC to respond to both issues. REC Director of Government and Community Relations Matt Faulconer’s response is provided below:
The only rate change since Rappahannock (REC) began serving former Allegheny Power (AP) customers occurred on July 1, when the Levelized Purchased Power Factor (LPPF) increased less than 2/10 of a cent, changing from 2.706 ¢ to 2.877 ¢. That amounts to an increase of $1.71 per month for someone using 1000 kWh, or about 1.8% of the total bill. That change was sought by AP prior to the acquisition as part of a 3-year agreement AP entered into with the State Corporation Commission in 2008. As a result of that agreement, AP was allowed to include the LPPF as a new charge starting in July of 2008. For AP’s residential customers, the LPPF increased in July of 2009 and again this past July. The LPPF is intended to recover some, but not all, of the costs of acquiring power from the wholesale market.
Former AP customers, like electricity users throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, have seen higher than normal electric bills over the past eight months due to increased use of electricity, not due to increased rates. The summer of 2010 was hotter than normal and this winter has been colder than normal. With heating and cooling being the largest uses of electricity in the average home, these weather patterns have resulted in more electricity being used than normal.
For example, on a statewide basis, January 2011 was 30% colder than normal, and colder than January of the past two years. December and November of 2010 were also colder than normal, December by 40% and November by 20%. (These statistics relate to the number of Heating Degree Days as determined by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Heating degree days is a recognized standard that measures the amount of time the temperature was below 65 degrees.) The chart below, using statewide average monthly temperatures, also shows that last summer was hotter than normal and this winter has been colder than normal.
Virginia Average Monthly Temperature
To find information specific to your area, visit http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx and select data from Dulles. Please refer to the attached document for summary commentary from the National Weather Service regarding observations at Dulles since last June. (I apologize for it being in all caps – I copied directly from NOAA documents.)
While most of us immediately look at the amount of the bill, it is also important to look at how much electricity was used during the billing period. For example, in December of 2010, the average REC member used 2175 kWh, compared to 1890 kWh in December 2009 (which was also colder than normal) and 1698 kWh in December 2008. The same is true for the summer months. In July 2010 the average was 1615 kWh compared to 1277 for July of 2009. Obviously, the bill for these months are going to be higher than expected, but by looking at the usage the increases are more easily understood. To help with such comparisons, thirteen months of usage information is included on every REC bill (the current month and the previous 12, or for those billed bi-monthly, the current billing period and the previous 6 periods.)
To account for differences in meter reading dates, estimated meter readings, and varying lengths of billing periods, it is helpful to compare total usage over multiple billing periods. Dividing the usage into kWh used per day provides an easy and useful comparison.
Aside from being a good corporate citizen, REC adheres to the widely recognized Seven Principles of Cooperatives. The fifth and seventh of those principles are:
Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives.
Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.
Awarding scholarships is just one of the many ways REC supports education and demonstrates concern for the communities we serve. We routinely visit schools and civic groups to provide education and training on energy efficiency and conservation, electrical safety, and critical subjects like science, math, and civics. REC strongly believes that an educating and informing our members is an essential responsibility that will allow our members to better manage their energy use, make informed decisions about future energy supplies, and provide for the safety of themselves, their families, and their communities.
Specific to the scholarships, REC is awarding fifteen $1000 scholarships for a total cost of $15,000. To put that in perspective, $15,000 amounts to less than 10 ¢ per meter per year – less than a penny per month (15,000/150,000 meters). That is the beauty of cooperation: by combining the efforts of many, a large task becomes easier and the benefit is greater than the sum of the individual efforts.
I hope these explanations help address the concerns of your readers. We are glad to discuss concerns like these and encourage you and our members to forward their questions to us.
Mr. Matt Faulconer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org