Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative’s primary power supplier, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), announced earlier this year their intention to increase both wholesale power rates and transmission rates. Following several months of review, BPA issued their Final Record of Decision that it would be raising rates by 6.1 percent effective October 1, 2017. BPA said the rate increase was due to several factors including lower-than-expected demand for power, a decline in surplus power sales due to lower market prices, and escalating costs for fish, wildlife and other programs driven by legal requirements. Additionally, BPA was adopting a new financial reserves policy whereby they intend to allocate approximately one percent of the power rate increase to their financial reserves.
At the regular September meeting of Fall River Electric’s elected nine-member Board of Directors, the board discussed not only the BPA rate increase and whether it would result in an increase in rates to Co-op members but also possible implementation of a demand charge for residential members and a review of the Co-op’s net metering policy for members that generate power from their own solar, wind or hydro systems.
The board postponed for future consideration both the residential demand charge and net metering review but did vote unanimously to absorb the BPA rate hike now and not increase rates to its owner-members (customers).
This action was only possible due to the Co-op’s board, management and employees past nine-year effort to improve equity in the Cooperative. From a low of 26 percent to today’s excellent 38 percent equity ratio, Fall River’s CEO/General Manager Bryan Case said, “This success in improving our financial fitness was a major feat and required the concerted efforts of the board and Fall River employees.”
Case added, “While getting the Cooperative in financial shipshape, the staff also focused on increasing its commitment to member services, making investments that ensure owner-members have a reliable electrical system. This includes $3.2 million in facility upgrades in 2016 alone.”
About Fall River Electric
Fall River is a customer-owned, nonprofit electric utility providing over 16,000 connections in portions of three states including Idaho, western Wyoming and southwest Montana. Fall River is committed to safely and economically provide reliable energy and other services which bring value to its members.
The Bonneville Power Administration is a nonprofit federal power marketing administration based in the Pacific Northwest. Although BPA is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, it is self-funding and covers its costs by selling its products and services. BPA markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydroelectric projects in the Northwest, one nonfederal nuclear plant and several small nonfederal power plants. BPA provides about 28 percent of the electric power used in the Northwest and its resources — primarily hydroelectric — make BPA power nearly carbon free.
BPA also operates and maintains about three-fourths of the high-voltage transmission lines in its service territory. BPA’s territory includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington, western Montana and small parts of eastern Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.