Many of our members are calling, writing and messaging, worried about the media reports of extremely high electricity bills. Electricity consumers that are on variable rate plans, where their kWh rate rises and falls based on market prices that fluctuate with supply and demand, are seeing outrageous bills. WCEC does not have variable rate plans.
Most of this is affecting those that are in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) footprint. Fortunately, we only have one meter in ERCOT. The rest of our electricity comes from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
WCEC members have fixed rates. There is a portion of power cost that is built into all rates. When power cost is less than or more than what is already built into the rates, adjustments are made via the power cost recovery factor (PCRF).
Power cost represents about 65% of all cooperative costs. The PCRF is in place to help with monthly swings in power cost.
Therefore, members will not see outrageous bills based on any cost adjustments for the winter storm period. The most important takeaway for each member is for them to know that the rates charged to them for their bills during the winter storm will remain stable.
Many members will see much larger bills, however, based on their highly elevated usage. In many cases, for the extremely cold days, many members used double or even triple the average kWh they normally use. We are not charging you more per kWh during that time. The elevated bill is due to more usage by you.
That’s because during this weather event, there was a great difference between the outside temperature and what the thermostat was set to regulate the inside temperature for comfort. Heating costs are a big driver of bills and mirror outside temperature extremes.
In April, we will be adjusting the PCRF. This is not a rate change. We anticipate this adjustment because the winter storm drove record breaking power demand. We will know more in the coming weeks. We do not expect a dramatic increase.
To secure the best power prices for our members, WCEC is a member of two generation and transmission cooperatives, Northeast Texas Electric Cooperative and East Texas Electric Cooperative. These were formed to allow cooperatives like WCEC to work together to plan power supply in larger quantities and take advantage of economies of scale. Both saw elevated costs for power based on elevated demand. Both of the generation and transmission cooperatives are looking at ways to minimize impacts to their members.
We do not have all the information at hand to make the PCRF adjustment at this point.
As soon as we know, we will announce it. Rest assured, we will do what we can to minimize the impacts to our members. Please remember, we are a non-profit cooperative. We do not mark up the power costs or make a profit on it. This increase is driven by what it cost to buy the fuel to generate the electricity.
Facing A High Bill? What You Can Do Now.
If you are concerned about a high bill driven by higher usage, there are things you can do now to soften the blow. Don’t be surprised when the bill comes. And don’t wait to take action. We have average billing and debt management solutions that we can suggest. If you need help with this, call us at 903-763-2203. Remember, we work for you, and we can help.