SDCEA’s (Sangre de Cristo Electric Association) proposed rate restructuring looks eerily familiar, as if we’ve been here before. Like a year ago, there are some disturbing elements to their plan.
It includes the same 45 percent increase in the fixed monthly service charge, which will hurt low-use consumers. Members will pay over $54 before they even flip on a light. Shifting more costs into fixed charges ties the hands of members who want to save money and/or conserve energy. Our research shows that this fixed charge increase will make it the second-highest co-op fixed charge in Tri-State’s four-state area.
Net-metering members will see bills go up by 40 percent or more. A proposed optional “energy+demand” rate schedule would more than double the annual cost for net-metered members. This begs the question, why is this option even being suggested? Will it be imposed on members in future rate restructuring?
SDCEA still refuses to properly value the energy that members send back to the grid. Many rooftop solar members generate excess energy that is sent to the grid for the co-op to sell at full retail rate. The transmission cost for this excess energy is lower, yet that’s not being considered. Neither are the social and environmental benefits of this renewable energy generation, or the resiliency locally generated energy adds to the grid. Instead, the proposed rate changes penalize members who conserve energy or who produce renewable energy. Other co-ops in Colorado and New Mexico have found ways to lower rates while embracing local renewable energy generation. Why does SDCEA continue to struggle with this?
Just like last year, this rate restructure is being rolled out without a public forum for member input. Members made it clear last year that they want more input and improved transparency from their co-op. And yet, here we go again. SDCEA said they plan a Town Hall meeting about the rate restructure this month, but no date has been set.
The SDCEA board will vote on adopting this rate restructure at their March 29 meeting. We urge members to attend, in person or virtually, and/or write to the board members to request they scrap the proposed rate restructure and work with members toward a better plan. Please let your voice be heard respectfully. Remember, the SDCEA board are community members too. Now is your time to participate again.
Ark Valley Energy Future Directors