La Plata Electric board needs to consider options

Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 1:25 PM

At recent La Plata Electric Association meetings, I am grateful to see more members showing up to voice concerns about long term planning, requesting:

Transparency about issues, information, and options Member interests made primary by the board All options explored - not just one Information about risks, drawbacks and benefits of staying on our current path, and each change option. The board's guarantee that choices made will not appreciably increase our rates.Many are concerned that every three years we send $200 million out of our local economy to pay for electricity - money we could keep local, creating jobs. Coal rates will keep rising, while other energy prices are dropping quickly, undermining our grid operation by creating attractive home-based options for coop members.

Current price trends point LPEA at financial instability within five to 10 years by losing members. This would leave remaining co-op customers saddled with rising rates to cover fixed costs.

Open market electricity prices are substantially cheaper than what we buy now. That gives LPEA options, including half-steps. Rate and reliability seem to be a universal concern among coop members. We don't want to rush into anything.

Our electric service works, with no big price hikes within the next couple years. LPEA's Long Term Strategy Subcommittee has no power to make decisions - it is chartered only to do our research for us. We need to insist that all co-op members are informed about its findings.

Kirby James MacLaurin