Electric rates could jump in January

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During last week’s Socorro County Electric Co-op trustee meeting, trustees discussed protesting an upcoming Tri-State Electric rate increase.

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is a wholesale electric power supplier owned by the 44 electric cooperatives it serves.

Socorro County Electric Co-op manager said, during the meeting, Tri-State’s rates will increase by 5.9 percent, which translates to about $4 per user beginning in January. Plus Socorro may see an additional 1.5 percent rate increase generated by Tri-State’s new rate design system bringing a total 7.4 percent increase to Socorro County customers.

Trustee Donald Wolberg said Tri-State may have made some significant errors when it redesigned the rate design. Herrera agreed and said the co-op can protest the rate increase. Wolberg suggested talking with some of the electric cooperatives which have decided to protest the increase.

In other business, during the meeting, the board looked at establishing a new pole attachment agreement.

The agreements are made with other entities, such as CenturyLink, who also use the co-op’s electric poles.

Trustee Charles Wagner asked what the current agreements are and co-op manager Joseph Herrera said currently all the agreements are expired. Wagner asked how much the co-op is receiving for the attachments. He was concerned that the income may exceed the limit for what the co-op is allowed in revenue other than what it receives for service.

Herrera said the limit is 15 percent of the co-op’s income that can be from other sources and the pole revenue is far below that limit.

Wagner said he would like to see a pole survey and Wolberg said there are 41,000 poles throughout the system.

During the managers report, Wagner asked Herrera questions about several expenditures, including law firm expenditures.

He asked if the attorneys bill by the hour or by the job and co-op attorney Bruce Wiggins said they charge by the hour.

During the Renewable Energy Certificate Committee report Herrera presented a draft agreement for solar power producers to sign to receive RECs through the co-op. There are 25 electric users utilizing RECs, paying energy back to the grid.

“This is the final agreement,” Herrera said. “Both parties (the co-op and the producers) are on line with this collaborative effort.”