I recently had a lengthy phone conversation with Neal Stephens, general manager of Empire Electric Association, regarding to the Colorado Country Life article, "Clarifying cost increase to our members" (Feb. 2013 issue, page 7). I always get concerned when someone has to come up with a reason to justify rate increases.
All residential users had an increase for facilities charge from $19.50 to $30.73 per month. A facilities charge is the fee paid for the cost of Empire Electric to bring electric to its users. I knew when they purchased land and built a new facility, the money would have to come from somewhere. So, everyone had an increase in their basic fee to cover their increase in basic costs.
The energy charge was decreased from $0.11271/kWh to $0.09599/kWh. We are constantly told of ways to conserve energy. This works if you use more then 672 kWh/month ($95.25/month). According to their chart, high energy users are rewarded with a difference from 2012 to 2013 of up to -12.4 percent. Those who use less than 672 kWh/month are penalized up to 31.1 percent. Since usage varies monthly, Empire Electric had to be sure their facilities costs were covered.
I guess part of the facilities charge also covers the amount paid to board members. Are you aware that seven board members are paid $1025/ meeting? $150 is paid to attend the meeting plus $875 for insurance. It used to be called medical insurance, but since most of the board members are retired and covered by Medicare, it is now referred to as liability insurance. Empire Electric does have insurance, but it is up to each board member to seek additional coverage should they be individually sued. I don't know if anyone has sued Empire Electric or any individual board member. This amounts to a total of $86,100/year for your board.
Board meetings are at 8:30 am during the week, ruling out most working people. I strongly urge anyone wanting to know what you are getting for this cost to attend the meetings, The meeting dates are posted in your monthly bill.
Editor's note: The $875 per month payment to directors is in lieu of providing medical insurance through Empire's employee plan, and is not related to director liability insurance.