For the second consecutive year San Isabel Electric Association, Inc. has announced there will be no rate increase for their members. The board of directors and employees of the local electric cooperative have worked diligently over the past few years to streamline operations and gain greater efficiencies in work processes to maintain current rates for 2011.
Another key in sustaining stable rates was the decision by San Isabel’s power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, to hold wholesale power cost steady. Wholesale power costs account for nearly 60 percent of San Isabel’s operating expenses. Due to San Isabel’s not-for-profit business platform, absorbing a complete rate increase in wholesale power costs is challenging for the electric cooperative. Other challenges to rate stability come from environmental issues and energy decisions made by state and national legislatures.
One of the key goals for San Isabel Electric General Manager Reg Rudolph has been to look at controllable costs and to maximize efficiencies within the organization to achieve rate stability. “We do not have a lot of control over the state and national energy policies so San Isabel is focused on the things we can control” said Rudolph. “We constantly work to identify opportunities for cost savings while continuing to provide excellent service to our members. This ongoing exercise enables San Isabel to offer rate consistency to our members and that is especially important in today’s economic environment.” said Rudolph. Slower system growth and investments have also contributed to keeping rate levels secure for the coming year.
Steady rates are just one of the benefits members of San Isabel Electric Association receive from their cooperative. While other utilities have announced rate increases locally and on a national level, San Isabel members have received capital credit payments as part of their membership. Annually the electric cooperative distributes revenues above operating costs to individuals and businesses that buy energy from the cooperative. Checks range from $10 to several hundred dollars for residents, and some businesses garner even larger sums, which are allocated in proportion to usage. $250,000 was distributed to San Isabel Electric-served schools, businesses and residents in September 2010, paying members back for their capital investment in San Isabel from 1984 through 1986 and for a portion of 1987.
One of the major initiatives for the Board of Directors in 2011 is to further study the capital credit policy and look for ways to give more money back to their members. “San Isabel Electric has been part of the southern Colorado community since 1938. We take the stewardship of our member investment in the cooperative very seriously. Decisions and investments are made with future generations in mind in order to provide long term stability for our members” said Rudolph. “We are locally owned by the members we serve. Our board members are elected, representing the communities where they live. So rates and service integrity are very important.” said Rudolph.
San Isabel Electric Association, Inc. is an electric cooperative, serving over 23,000 members in all or parts of seven counties in Southern Colorado. The counties served are Pueblo, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Custer, Costilla and Fremont.