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Rate Increase FAQ's

On May 1, 2018, CHEC will implement a rate increase for the first time in nearly 10 years.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that we have received from the membership since announcing the increase, and answers to help you better understand the reason for the increase and what it means for you.

How much will my bill increase?

The overall rate increase will be approximately 13.72%. Individual adjustments will vary depending on the type of account and the individual usage. 

Based on average annual consumption, a residential member will see the following increases:

Summer kWhs

Current Rates

New Rates

Increased Dollar

1,000

$120.80

$141.70

$20.90

1,500

$193.80

$226.30

$32.50

2,000

$266.80

$310.90

$44.10

3,000

$412.80

$480.10

$67.30

4,500

$613.80

$733.90

$102.10

 

What is the change to the Basic Facilities Charge?

The change in Basic Facilities Charges will increase as follows:

 

Current Rate

New Rate

Residential Service

$20.00

$25.00

Commercial Service

$25.00

$30.00

 

What does the Basic Facilities Charge represent?

The Basic Facilities Charge is included in your energy charge and helps the cooperative cover the cost of building and maintaining the distribution system and delivering power.

 

Who determines when a rate increase is necessary and by how much?

CHEC’s Board of Directors and management continuously monitor the financial stability of the cooperative to determine if or when a rate increase is necessary.  To establish the latest rate structure, an independent, experienced firm was hired to review and recommend changes to our rates.

 

When was the last rate increase?

The last rate increase was in May 2009.

 

What is the effective date of the new rates and when will I see this reflected on my bill?

The new rates will go into effect May 1, 2018.  Any billing cycle after May 1 will reflect the new rates.

 

Did the rate increase as a result of the new Bonner Bridge?

A rate increase is necessary due to multiple factors, including increases in the cost of purchased power and system improvements.  These improvements include the installation of new transmission cables on the new Bonner Bridge.

 

Will commercial rates increase or is this applicable only to residential rates?

The cost of service study offers a comprehensive review of all rates to ensure that each member, regardless of rate classification, pays his or her fair share.  Both commercial and residential accounts will have a rate increase.

 

Are copies of the rate schedule available?

Copies of the new rate schedule are available in the Cooperative’s office in Buxton or you can click here to view them.

 

I understand that CHEC has a program to help those in need in the community; are my rates being increased to support this program?

No.  Funding for the Cape Hatteras Electric Foundation comes from CHEC members who voluntarily round up their monthly electric bill to the nearest dollar.  The total contribution per member ranges between $0.12 and $11.88 annually.  That money is then transferred into the Operation Round-up Fund and distributed by the Foundation board to residents of Hatteras Island in financial crisis, or to local non-profit organizations.

 

Each year capital credits are returned to members; can CHEC keep those monies instead of increasing rates?

CHEC is a not-for-profit electric cooperative.  However, in order for the cooperative to comply with loan covenants established by our lenders, RUS & CFC, rates must generate sufficient margins (profits) to make both the principal and interest payments on our debt.  Our not-for-profit status mandates that any net margins made by the cooperative must be allocated to the membership in the form of capital credits.  A portion of these amounts are retired annually in the form of checks and or bill credits to our members

 

I understand that rates have not increased since 2009.  Can we expect the same time frame with the new rates? Or is another rate increase anticipated and when?

While CHEC has not had a rate increase in nearly a decade, there are several factors that the cooperative is now facing that will affect rates. Anticipated increases in wholesale power costs encompass the majority of the rate increase.

A significant driving factor is recent state laws regulating the disposal of coal ash. While CHEC does not own any coal power plants, recent state legislation and federal regulations related to the handling of coal ash by utilities will impact the price of wholesale power for CHEC and other utilities that purchase power from Duke Energy.  Beginning in 2018, Duke Energy will recover costs from wholesale customers for regulatory compliance at its ash storage sites.

The remaining increase can be attributed to the increase in depreciation and interest expense associated with nearly $20 million in capital investments over the next three years, including the Bonner Bridge transmission cables, as well as inflation on normal operating expenses.

We are committed to doing our best to minimize the impacts to our members by being proactive in our power supply and operational planning and offering energy-saving tips and rebate programs.  We are committed to maintaining the reliability, quality and integrity of our electric system.

However, the fact remains that the cost of power continues to rise, as does the cost of equipment necessary to keep your electrical system operating safely and reliably. Based on current projections, CHEC anticipates having to implement another rate increase in three to four years. 

 

What is CHEC doing to keep costs down?

CHEC strives to operate efficiently while adhering to our commitment of providing reliable and environmentally responsible electrical service to Hatteras Island at the lowest possible cost. We continuously evaluate our operations in an effort to keep your rates as low as possible by:

            Implementing beneficial technology, such as our Conservation Voltage Reduction, AMI meters and programmable thermostat programs

            Competitively bidding all contracts to ensure quality service at the best possible price

            Ongoing evaluation of our day-to-day operations for opportunities to improve and gain efficiencies

As always, CHEC management and staff will continue to work diligently to manage costs, to keep rates stable, for as long as possible. 

 

What can I do to reduce my electric costs and can CHEC provide any assistance in this area?

CHEC offers a number of ways to help members manage their electric bills. These services include using power more efficiently as well as flexible payment options, such as Budget Billing and prepay. The prepay meters qualify as an energy cost monitor as members who participate receive daily communications via text and/or email informing them of their daily kWh usage, their balance, as well as any high usage alerts.

CHEC sells wi-fi enabled “smart” Ecobee thermostats for a fraction of their retail value in exchange for member’s participation in a load management program. When the thermostats are called on to reduce peak demand, the thermostats are adjusted either up or down by a few degrees. Members receive a monthly credit for their participation and have the ability to override the setting if necessary.  Members with Nest thermostats are also now able to participate in load management and receive a monthly credit for their participation through the cooperative’s Bring Your Own Thermostat program.

CHEC helps members save money by issuing $100 rebates to members that turn in a second refrigerator or freezer, and $25 rebates on the purchase of Energy Star appliances. CHEC offers low-interest financing up to $10,000 for commercial members, as well as $6,000 for residential members, for new high efficiency heat pumps and other energy efficiency improvements.

CHEC staff provides free home energy assessments to cooperative members to aid in making their residences more energy efficient. By being a part of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, CHEC members can find tips on how to improve efficiency at home or in their business anytime by visiting www.TogetherWeSave.com.

 

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