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Member Matters Column: Rates by CEO Zac Perkins

As chief executive officer at TCEC, some parts of my job are fun. Other parts, not so much.

While I like to connect with members, writing is not my forte. However, I feel I should be the one to discuss rates with you in the first monthly Member Matters editorial column.

Our Board of Trustees approved changes across all rate classes in December. You will see the new rates on your February bill for January energy use. The average overall rate increase is less than 2.5 percent. It is a small change for most members.

These changes are the second part of a multi-phase rate restructuring identified in a 2016 cost of service study. In addition to the study, Mother Nature dealt TCEC two devastating storms in 2017. The restoration of our infrastructure is costly and may put some financial strain on the cooperative for four to six years.

We understand how rate changes affect each of us in our daily lives. I feel small changes are easier to manage than waiting until all the restoration is complete and potentially having a large increase. Just like you and your family, TCEC must meet its financial obligations. The cooperative must pay its bills and be accountable to its lenders. We are diligently working to make the rate impacts from these storms as minimal as possible.

As a not-for-profit utility TCEC strives to meet the needs of its members in the most reliable and cost-efficient manner. Some of the ways we are cost-conscious include:

Only filling job openings due to vacancies after evaluating whether the position is a necessity.
Not hiring or creating any new positions in the organization.
Closely monitoring the budget for each department.
Reducing the budget by postponing some improvement projects to a later date while only implementing the most critical.
Focusing on work that is partially reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency due to the 2017 storms.
Performing a multi-year audit of expenses with the purpose of a reduction. For example, TCEC reduced its operating expenses by about 21% in 2017.

We balance the containment of operating expenses with improvements to system reliability. We know your power is a necessity today and we won’t sacrifice reliability to cut costs.

The third cooperative principle is “Members’ Economic Participation.” When you pay your bill each month, you’re contributing to the capital of your cooperative. You elect trustees to democratically control that capital and ensure contributions are equitable. TCEC’s rates are based on the total cost to serve and are allocated to classes of members based upon costs to serve each individual member class.

Local people working for you is one of your cooperative benefits. We are in this together. Trustees and employees of TCEC pay the same rates as members. We are all looking out for your best interests.

If you have questions about these changes, please contact us at 580.652.2418 during regular business hours to speak to a member service representative. If they can’t answer your question, they’ll find someone who can.

A shorter version of this column originally appeared in the January 2018 LiveWire Newsletter. The full column was distributed to area media on January 2, 2018.

Published: February 16, 2018

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