Sangre de Christo Electrical Association

Here’s a letter I sent to the Sangre de Christo Electric Association (SDCEA) yesterday.

You are once again proposing a rate restructuring that will hurt low-use consumers and discourage energy conservation. Your plan includes a 45 percent increase in the fixed monthly service charge, which will make it the second-highest co-op fixed charge in Tri-State’s four-state area, and members will pay over $54 per month before they even turn on a light. Shifting more costs into fixed charges will tie the hands of members who want to save money and/or conserve energy. The proposed rate changes also penalize members who conserve energy or produce renewable energy, which is counterproductive to community goodwill.

Net-metering members will see their bills go up by 40 percent or more, and an optional “energy+demand” rate schedule would more than double the annual cost for net-metered members. The fixed charge increase and the proposed rates would hurt SDCEA’s relationship with solar producers, who are paid just 3 cents per kwh, far less than they pay Tri-State for the same electricity. The proposed $46 per month charge to maintain connections is discouraging for residential generators. SDCEA should want more of us as EV and electrical demands increase, but instead, the proposed rate changes encourage us to disconnect from the grid entirely.

SDCEA’s proposed rate restructuring is unfair and inequitable to its members. You refuse to properly value energy that members send back to the grid, and you are not considering the social and environmental benefits of renewable energy generation or the resiliency locally generated energy adds to the grid. Other co-ops in Colorado and New Mexico have found ways to lower rates while embracing local renewable energy generation, but you seem to be struggling.

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, yet you are ignoring them. The proposal is counterproductive to community goodwill and concern for low-income users, and it does not encourage energy efficiency.

The SDCEA board will vote on adopting this rate restructure at the March 29 meeting. As a co-op member, I am writing to ask that the board members scrap the proposed rate restructure and work with members toward a better plan.

The CEO of SDCEA steps down prior to a confrontation with the customers over the proposed rate hikes.

Letter to the editor says to go to Wednesday’ board meeting. However, SDCEA says they won’t talk about the rate change there, but in a meeting the following week.

Here’s my last month’s electric bill. I’m paying almost as much in service fees and taxes as I am paying for energy.

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The challengers won. Will they be able to keep rates and fees level?