Friday, May 20, 2022

How and when you use power could impact your bill

by Hungry Horse News
| May 4, 2022 1:00 AM

For the fourth year in a row, Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Board of Trustees announced a zero percent overall rate revenue increase for all rate classes. Trustees approved a revenue-neutral change to residential rates, effective June 1 where the basic charge remains the same, energy charges will decrease slightly, and the demand charge will increase slightly.

The Hungry Horse News story in last week’s edition was in error. It listed the increases and decreases from last year, not the current increases and decreases.

Folks could either see a slight bump in rates, or a reduction in rates, depending on how they use electricity and what time of day they use it.

Overall, most residential members’ bills will decrease or increase by less than 1.5%, depending on how they use electricity, the Co-op notes.

Over time, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has changed the way it charges the Co-op for wholesale power, and the shift from residential energy charges to demand charges reflects that change.

The Co-op purchases about 97% of its electricity from BPA, and pays a premium for power used during peak hours, the most expensive hours for the Co-op. As a member- owned, not-for-profit cooperative, the Co-op’s goal is to collect costs equitably from members.

The residential demand charge also gives members more control over their bills. Previously, using less energy was the only way to reduce bills. Now, shifting energy usage to non-peak hours, and/or avoiding the simultaneous use of large appliances during peak hours, may lower residential bills.

The residential demand charge, which will increase to $1.38 a kilowatt, is the amount billed based on the highest hourly demand measured during the Co-op’s peak hours in a member’s billing cycle. Peak hours occur Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. (no weekends or major federal holidays).

The residential energy charge is the amount billed for each kilowatt hour consumed in a member’s billing cycle. Energy charges will decrease by 3.66% for Block 1 (from $0.0628 to $0.0605), by 3.34% for Block 2 (from $0.0748 to $0.0723), and by 2.41% for Block 3 (from $0.1079 to $0.1053).

So if one wants to save on energy costs, try using large appliances, like dishwashers and washing machines, at offpeak hours.