Mt. Vernon Register-News

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January 5, 2012

Tri-County Electric to increase rates

Rate adjustment due to increase in wholesale power from SIPC

MT. VERNON — Tri-County Electric Cooperative customers will be seeing a rate increase on their bills.

“We’ve been talking about the upcoming rate adjustment since our annual meeting in July,” said Tri-County General Manager Marcia Scott. “We will be implementing it now, and a notice will be received in the bills we are sending out now.”

The rate adjustment is due to an increase in wholesale power from the Southern Illinois Power Cooperative.

“This adjustment ... prevents the entire wholesale power cost increase from being passed through to members in one year through the monthly wholesale power adjustment,” Scott stated. “This increase in the cost of wholesale power is due, in large part, to SIPC’s participation in the Prairie State Energy Campus located in Washington County. SIPC chose to participate in the new state-of-the-art power plant to meet members’ growing needs for energy.”

Scott explained the plant will be efficient and economical, with the total cost of the plant at $5 billion with SIPC owning just under 8 percent of the plant.

“The other factor driving the increasing wholesale power cost is the cost of meeting the ever-increasing requirements of Environmental Protection Agency regulations.”

Scott said SIPC could have chosen other ways to meet the needs for electricity.

“However, the bottom line is that SIPC chose what was determined to be the most stable, reliable and economical source of power for its membership,” Scott said. “While this plant will run efficiently, the cost of the investment, along with the EPA regulations, will cause Tri-County’s wholesale cost of power to increase about 20.3 percent or $4.8 million next year. Our wholesale cost of power is projected to decrease somewhat in 2013 — to about 18 percent increase over our 2011 wholesale rate.”

Scott said the Tri-County membership rate increase will average to less than the wholesale power cost increase.

“We expect our rates to increase an average of 15 percent split over a two year period,” Scott said. “In order to give members ample time to adjust, this rate increase to membership will be phased in over a two year period — 2012 and 2013.”

Scott said the phased-in increase does not take into account any changes to EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants which have been discussed for the past few years.

“This has been a very difficult decision and one that the board has spent considerable time discussing,” Scott said. “We are hopeful that after the next two years, rates will stabilize; however, that will depend on the costs associated with new EPA regulations.”

Additional information on the rate increase is available online at www.tricountycoop.com.

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