As a cooperative we exist to provide at-cost electricity and strive to provide for the best interests of our members. For the past eight years, we have been able to avoid residential rate increases and even provided credits through our wholesale power cost adjustment (WPCA). However, you may have noticed that the WPCA was a charge on your December bill.
The key drivers of WPCA charges are cost increases passed along to the Cooperative from our wholesale power provider. The cost of energy — the wholesale power we purchase and sell to you to energize homes, businesses and communities — is rising. This is a result of the increasing cost of natural gas, other power generation fuel sources and our wholesale providers’ increased operating costs.
Also, the cost of electric system investments and improvements necessary to keep our electric system reliable and resilient is also increasing. We discussed last month how the cost of investments in power lines and substations has increased significantly due to inflation and material supply disruptions. Some of our suppliers have indicated material costs may rise another 10% to 110% over the next year.
Fleet costs for service vehicles and line trucks have also risen in cost. And, of course, fuel costs to operate our service flee have risen significantly.
Even in a rising costs environment, we are committed to keeping your bill as low as possible. Rising costs may affect your cooperative for the foreseeable future, but our commitment to you, our members, is that we will do everything possible to mitigate these costs while striving to provide the best reliability and member service in the nation.
Piedmont Electric Cooperative wants to help members manage their energy use. Energy efficiency information is available on pemc.coop, where members can also find programs such as budget billing, our “pay as you use” prepay option and SmartHub’s usage tracker, which shows daily electricity use, helping members make changes if needed to get ahead of high bills.
So, unfortunately, we anticipate the WPCA will continue as a charge for the foreseeable future or until inflation subsides. If you need additional help managing your energy use, call 800.222.3107 to speak to one of our energy specialists.