Douglas Electric Cooperative (DEC) will be implementing its first electric rate increase since 2019 beginning with the June billing cycle. Typically, DEC adjusts rates in conjunction with the increases we are charged by our wholesale power provider, but the board opted to delay rate increases during the pandemic. Unfortunately, DEC is seeing unprecedented cost increases in wire, transformers, poles, fuel, labor, benefits, and all costs associated with operating and maintaining a distribution electric cooperative.
In addition to increased maintenance and materials costs, DEC has also been actively engaged in fire mitigation efforts designed to reduce wildfire risk to its members and their property. This represents a significant investment but the changes in fuel load and the ongoing drought contributing to dead and dying trees have made this an unavoidable cost of doing business in this environment.
DEC is in the process of building a new headquarters and warehouse and some may assume that this rate increase is to pay for the new building, but the building project has been ongoing for nearly four years. In 2018, the board made the decision to replace the 70 plus year-old building and warehouse, securing funds while interest rates were at record lows. Unfortunately, the project was put on hold following the massive snowstorm that occurred in February of 2019. In short, the timing of the rate increase is an unfortunate and unavoidable coincidence.
The typical residential service will see a $3 increase to the base charge and a fraction of a penny increase to the kWh charge, moving from $.0877 to $.0938. Most of the other rate classes will also see a $3 increase to the base charge and an adjustment to their kWh charges as well. The new rate schedules can be found at Douglas Electric Cooperative Rate Information.
Despite this rate increase, DEC is still competitive with our neighboring utilities, both cooperatives and investor owned, and we are well below the national average. For example, the chart below shows how a DEC member using 1,200 kWh compares to his or her neighbors who are served by other utilities.
DEC, like all rural electric cooperatives, works on a cost basis: we charge just what it costs to provide the service. What this means is that as the costs to operate increase, we must also increase our rates accordingly. If you need assistance with your bill, please call the office and we can connect you to local agencies who may be able to assist you.