Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

August 7, 2013

Grayson RECC rates going up


Journal-Times

Aug. 7, 2013 — For just the second time in 15 years, electric rates are going up at the Grayson Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (RECC).

The Kentucky Public Service Commission last Wednesday approved a request by Grayson RECC for a rate increase that will allow the utility to maintain its financial stability.

The PSC authorized an increase that will generate about $1.9 million in additional revenue.

The monthly service charge for residential and farm customers will increase to $15, which is $4.65 more than the current charge of $10.35 per month.

The cost of electricity will rise from 10.427 cents per kilowatt-hour to 10.910 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Grayson RECC serves 4,534 customers in Carter County.

This is only the co-op’s second rate increase since 1998. Another was approved in 2008.

Carol Hall Fraley, president and CEO of Grayson RECC, said she was “well satisfied” with the PSC’s approval order and that she did not object to the comments about the co-op’s financial management.

“The Public Service Commission has always treated us fairly because they understand the challenges we face,” she said. “They know that we waited as long as we could before asking for this rate increase and that we have maintained our staffing level for reasons of safety and efficiency.”

For a customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month (a kilowatt-hour is the amount of electricity used by a 100-watt light bulb in 10 hours), the total monthly bill (excluding surcharges) initially will increase by $9.48, to $124.10. That is about 8.3 percent higher than the current monthly bill of $114.62.

In total, Grayson RECC serves about 15,400 customers in six counties – Carter, Rowan, Elliott, Lewis, Lawrence, and Greenup.

It is among 16 cooperatives that own and purchase power from the East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. (EKPC).

The PSC also noted that Grayson RECC’s wage and salary expenses continued to rise even as its finances deteriorated after the 2008 economic downturn.

Other electric cooperatives facing similar problems either eliminated or reduced wage and salary increases, the PSC said.

Grayson RECC should improve its financial condition before considering any further wage or salary increases, the PSC said in its order.

In addition to granting the rate increase, the PSC also allowed Grayson RECC to establish a voluntary pre-paid metering program similar to that offered by several other electric cooperatives in Kentucky.

The program allows customers to pay in advance for service and to replenish the account as needed.

Pre-paid service customers will pay a $10 monthly program administrative fee in addition to the monthly customer charge and cost of electricity, but are not required to pay a deposit and do not incur fees for late payments or reconnection if service is discontinued.

The PSC noted that Grayson RECC, in conjunction with EKPC, offers its customers demand-side management (DSM) programs designed to improve energy efficiency.