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Rates

 

 

Understanding Changes to Your Electric Bill

Changes to San Isabel Electric’s monthly grid access charge went into effect January 1, 2023. These changes include:

  • $5 grid access charge increase for residential, small commercial (C1, C4, and N-C net-metered)
  • $20 grid access charge increase for large commercial
  • $80 grid access charge increase for industrial

There is no change to the grid access charge for accounts with an electric storage time-of-use rate, or to accounts on the pump rate. There is no change to the energy usage charge (kilowatt hour – kWh rate) for any rate class

 

First rate change in 8 years!

As a member-owned local cooperative utility we’ve been able to keep rates as low as possible for several years. In January of 2023, we implemented the first access charge increase that we’ve had in 8 years and just the second in 13 years.

Summary of changes

A component of the board-approved changes is to incrementally increase the residential grid access charge annually, while working to reduce the energy charge. The total monthly grid access charge will not exceed $35.00 per month by 2027.

Some contributing factors

  • Our dedication to providing safe, reliable electric service for your members today and in the future.
  • Inflation and supply chain pressures driving costs upward, resulting in higher costs for materials, supplies, fuel, and other labor necessary to maintain our system.

Frequently asked questions

What is the grid access charge?

The monthly grid access charge covers your access to the power grid and a portion of our costs to operate and maintain the system. The charge covers expenses to maintain the electric grid, like poles, wires, trucks, labor, and equipment maintenance costs. So, when something unexpected happens that causes an outage, a crew is dispatched at no extra expense to you. This fixed monthly charge ensures you have access to electricity 24/7, 365 days a year, when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing.

As a cooperative, together we are bringing electricity to rural areas where other larger utilities don’t view the area as profitable enough to serve. It is one of our founding principles to spread costs equally across the membership to maintain the system–regardless of geographic or demographic circumstances, or how much electricity a member-owner uses 

Who made the decision to raise the grid access charge and how did you come up with these amounts?

San Isabel Electric’s Board of Directors and executive staff continuously monitor the financial stability of the organization to determine if current rates are sustainable. To establish the new rate structure, an independent, experienced firm conducted a cost-of-service study. The cost-of-service study indicated the need to update our rate structure to ensure that we can continue providing safe, reliable, affordable electricity.

Can we expect the same timeframe for the next rate change?

A component of the board-approved changes is to incrementally increase the residential grid access charge annually, while working to reduce the energy charge. The total monthly grid access charge will not exceed $35.00 per month by 2027. 

Basic questions

What has San Isabel Electric done to control expenses?

We employ a small, talented, and dedicated workforce to maintain 4,600 miles of line spanning 6,600 square miles, mostly in terrain not accessible by roads. Our employee to member-account ratio is about 1:300. We work very hard to control costs through the implementation of cost-efficient technologies and workflows, and only change rates when necessary. For example, the implementation of automatic equipment used to signal a problem and restore outages has reduced field outage restoration work by tens of thousands of hours in the last decade. Consequently, we have only had one other rate change in the last 13 years. Not many businesses can say that! It’s something we’re very proud of. 

How often are rates evaluated?

San Isabel Electric evaluates rates periodically, but no less than annually. Rates are reviewed periodically to prevent large swings in rate changes. These mild changes allow SIEA to stay current with costs. We honor our commitment to minimize the impact by being being proactive in our power supply and operational planning and offering energy-savings tips and other programs. Our top priority is maintaining the reliability, quality, and integrity of our electric system. 

What are some ways I can manage my electric bill costs?

SmartHub, our account management app, has a variety of tools to help you monitor your energy usage. Visit siea.com/SmartHub to learn more. SIEA offers dozens of rebates for energy efficiency products. Check them out at siea.com/rebates. We also sell, install, and finance energy efficiency products and services, like whole house and ceiling fans, insulation, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, generators, and more! Go to siea.com/Empower to learn how we can help you start saving

How am I going to benefit from the increase in the grid access charge?

The access charge is necessary to ensure we can continue providing safe, reliable, affordable electricity 24/7, 365 days a year, when the sun isn’t shining, and the wind isn’t blowing.    

Traditionally, capital credits are returned to members. Can you keep that money instead of increasing rates?

San Isabel Electric is a not-for-profit electric cooperative. Our not-for-profit status as well as our by-laws mandate that any margins (profits) made by the cooperative must be allocated to the membership in the form of capital credits. Annually, these amounts are retired. Cash flow is required to maintain our operations, and although capital credits are equity for the cooperative, they do not equate to cash.

Did rates increase because of recent maintenance projects and new meters?

No. Recent maintenance projects, such as the upgrade of our main distribution line and the meter replacement project are helping to keep future costs down by reducing unexpected maintenance costs. Inflation and supply chain pressures are driving costs upward, resulting in higher costs for materials, supplies, fuel, and other labor necessary to maintain our system. Our dedication to providing safe, reliable electric service for our members today and in the future.

Solar questions

I have solar. I hardly ever use electricity from the grid. Why do I have to pay for the increase?

We understand that even a slight increase in your electric bill affects you. The change is necessary due to the higher costs for materials, labor, and fuel to provide services. Part of being tied into the electric grid means you’ll still have access to electricity when the sun isn’t shining.  The grid access charge covers your access to the grid and our costs to operate and maintain the system, such as poles, wires, trucks, labor, and equipment maintenance costs. The grid access charge is unavoidable by generating more electricity than you will consume.

I didn't know the grid access charge was going to go increase when I invested in solar. Why didn't you disclose the rate could change when I signed up?

San Isabel Electric is an electric cooperative. One of our cooperative principles is based on spreading costs out equally to maintain our system. Costs of energy fluctuate, just like gas and food. We’ve only passed along increased costs to our member-owners once in the last 13 years. The last rate change was eight years ago, in 2014. 

Why aren't you buying more renewable generation to control costs?

We are. By 2025, 50%, and by 2030, 80% of your electricity will come from clean energy.

I have an irrigation pump that is on the residential rate. Can I switch it to the pump rate?

Yes, as long as the pump is tied to a meter that does not serve a dwelling or other building structure. 

What needs to be done to combine meters?

If you have multiple meters and are interested in consolidating service, please consult an electrician. Factors such as the distance between the meters, capacity, and peak load will be considered by the electrician. Once the work is complete, San Isabel Electric terminate the old service.

Can I avoid paying the monthly grid access charge by disconnecting my meter for the time I am away from my property or not using electricity?

No. If you choose to only turn on your meter during times you will be using electricity, you will still be required to pay the monthly grid access charge for the months your meter is disconnected when you reconnect, and you will have to pay a reconnect fee.  

When you sign up for service, you can access electricity from the grid 24/7, 365 days a year, whether you choose to use it or not. The grid access charge covers a portion of our costs to operate and maintain the system, so you have that freedom. As a not-for-profit cooperative, it is one of our founding principles to spread costs equally across the membership to maintain the system–regardless of geographic or demographic circumstances, or how much electricity a member-owner uses. 

Miscellaneous questions

I have an irrigation pump that is on the residential rate. Can I switch it to the pump rate?

Yes, as long as the pump is tied to a meter that does not serve a dwelling or other building structure. 

What needs to be done to combine meters?

If you have multiple meters and are interested in consolidating service, please consult an electrician. Factors such as the distance between the meters, capacity, and peak load will be considered by the electrician. Once the work is complete, San Isabel Electric terminate the old service.

Can I avoid paying the monthly grid access charge by disconnecting my meter for the time I am away from my property or not using electricity?

No. If you choose to only turn on your meter during times you will be using electricity, you will still be required to pay the monthly grid access charge for the months your meter is disconnected when you reconnect, and you will have to pay a reconnect fee. 

Questions?

 

Email contactus@siea.com or call 800-279-SIEA