Message from CEO Matt Berry:
I am pleased to announce, barring unforeseen circumstances, we are not planning a rate increase in 2019. This would mark nine years since our last rate change, which was August 2010!
That’s incredible value and stability. What makes it even more noteworthy is we haven’t been sitting still. Over the past nine years, we’ve invested $20 million in electric system reliability upgrades, and we’ve returned $11.5 million to you in patronage cash back ($33 million since our inception). That’s in addition to increases in general day-to-day expenses, wages, etc. All without raising electric rates! For nine years.
The credit for this good news goes to our employees and also to you, our members.
Our employees understand we’re not-for-profit and member-owned. They know who they’re really working for. So they strive to be as efficient and as productive as possible. In fact, compared to the average for America’s 900 electric cooperatives, we serve more members per employee. We do more with less. We have the same number of employees today that we had in the 1980s.
A big reason for that productivity is technology. From computerized maps and our smart metering system being tied with our outage systems, to a state-of-the-art online billing and customer access system (SmartHub), we’ve made technology work for us — and for you.
We’ve refinanced loans to generate about $2 million in savings. Our peak load control programs (ie, electric water heater control) save more than $500,000 per year in avoided demand charges on our wholesale power bill from Buckeye Power. (The peak control times occur less than 1 percent of all the hours in a year.)
Employees and department managers keep expenses within budget. We follow an equity management plan, strategically balancing debt and equity financing, to minimize our cost of capital. In 2017, we started a shared employee services project with neighboring Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative, saving more than $100,000 a year.
Earlier, I said part of the credit for our rate stability goes to you, the members. How so? Your participation in the peak load control programs mentioned above, and by using our electronic and automatic payment methods.
We’re also very thankful that our members are extremely conscientious about paying their electric bill; our bad debt expense is ridiculously low.
And almost 700 Midwest Electric members participate in our political action program, Co-op Owners for Political Action. Our legislative lobbying efforts are focused on supporting legislation the keeps electricity affordable and reliable. You wouldn’t think our politicians should have such a hard time understanding the need for affordable and reliable electricity. But trust me, we need to strengthen our voice in Columbus and Washington, D.C.
Buckeye Power, the generation power supplier for Midwest Electric and Ohio’s 24 electric distribution cooperatives, accounts for about 65 cents of every dollar you send us. Buckeye’s rates have been stable these past few years, and they project continued stability for the next few years.
Stop and think about everything electricity does every day for you, your family, your business. Let me know if you can think of a better value.