Rising Power Costs: A Perfect Storm

Utilities across the country are seeing increases in the cost of generating and transmitting electricity. As you’ve likely noticed on your bills, Great River Energy, Arrowhead Electric’s wholesale electricity provider, is no exception.

Over the last 20 years, the number of members served by Great River Energy’s member cooperatives has grown by more than 150,000. During that same timeframe, the annual average electricity consumption per consumer increased by nearly 25 percent. Because more people were using more power, Great River Energy began building new transmission and generation facilities to ensure the power supply could meet consumers’ needs.

 In past years, Great River Energy sold any additional power it produced during off-peak hours to other utilities. This was a tremendous benefit that significantly off-set the fixed costs of power plants and transmission facilities Great River Energy built to meet the peak demand of its members. Recently, there has been little need for surplus power plants and transmission facilities are shared across fewer sales to co-op members.

Complicating matters is the fact that Minnesota utilities are required to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025, at a time when consumers are using less electricity.

Additional expenses come from the rising cost of fuels such as coal and a host of new regulations set by the state and federal government. These include the renewable energy standard and stringent environmental controls.

Great River Energy is holding the line on costs where it can. The company stopped hiring and significantly cut its general operating budget. Capital spending has been reduced by putting all new projects on hold and only completing those already in progress.

What can you do?

  • Sign up for EnergyWise programs
  • Turn off lights
  • Unplug electronics
  • Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Switch to LED holiday lights and other lighting

Also, contact your elected officials and ask them to consider the cost of new regulations before they vote “yea.” Visit http://www.OurEnergyMN.coop or http://www.OurEnergy.coop for more information and to add your voice to the issue.

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