Authored by: Amber Overfelt
November is National Gratitude month. While 2022 has brought on a unique set of challenges for individuals, families, businesses, and cooperatives when I sit and reflect there is still so much to be thankful for at Howard Electric Cooperative.
I am thankful to work in the cooperative business model that places the member/owners of the cooperative first. Providing safe, reliable, affordable, and clean electric power to our member-owners is a mission statement that Howard Electric employees and Board of Directors take very seriously.
Your cooperative has seen rising costs across the board in 2022 just like you have in your home and/or business. One item in particular that jumps out are the utility poles on our system. Since 2019, when rates at Howard Electric were last adjusted, the cost of a 40’ pole has increased 225%. Yes, it cost us twice as much to purchase a 40’ pole. This does not take into account the increased cost of all the other material attached to that pole, the cost of the equipment it takes to set the pole, and the increased cost of fuel to reach to the job site.
Rate increases are something no cooperative likes to talk about. Your board and employees work hard to keep rates as low as possible. There has not been a rate adjustment at Howard Electric Cooperative since 2019. However, we know rates will increase on the April 1, 2023 bills. Earlier this summer, staff at Howard Electric started working with Toth and Associates, an engineering firm specializing in electrical engineering and rate design, on a Cost-of-Service Study. Your staff and Board of Directors are currently reviewing that Cost-of Service Study to help determine based on the increasing costs what is the fair rate to charge both residential and commercial accounts. As these decisions are made you can be sure providing safe, reliable, affordable, and clean electric power will be the guiding factor.
Today the average residential member of Howard Electric pays $5.22 a day for their electricity. As we take a moment to be thankful for all the benefits we get from electricity, it is a bargain. All of your board members and a large percentage of your employees are also members of the cooperative. As members, they pay the same rate everyone does, and this makes us even more sensitive to the impact of a rate increase.