Board of Directors Responds to Customer-Owners
At the June 12 meeting, Emerald People's Utility District's (EPUD's) Board of Directors voted to discontinue the residential tiered rate structure. The utility will return to a residential flat rate of $0.0796 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on October 1, 2019.
Tiered rates were implemented in April 2017 with the goal of using energy efficiency as a resource to meet growing customer demand. By incenting customers to use less energy, the utility hoped to avoid the risk of entering into future power-purchasing contracts and the financial drain of building a new power plant. Before the new rate structure was announced, EPUD increased the funding available to customers through energy efficiency programs. Many of those who took advantage of the programs and successfully reduced their energy consumption saw significant reductions on their monthly electric bills.
The majority of customers benefited from tiered rates and saw a decrease on their annual energy costs. However, those who were unable to decrease their usage and regularly used more than 1,800 kWh a month saw their bills increase, particularly during the winter months.
EPUD's Board of Directors was receptive to feedback they received on tiered rates and welcomed customers to participate in rate discussions on multiple occasions. Earlier this year, the Board asked staff to report on the results of the tiered rates and called upon the Citizens Advisory Committee on Finance and Rates to review the findings and make a recommendation.
While tiered rates helped the utility lower energy usage to some degree, the Board ultimately determined customer feedback warranted a change of course. However, EPUD remains committed to energy efficiency and will continue to invest in programs that help customers reduce their consumption, particularly during times of “peak” demand. Look for new voluntary programs to be announced in the coming months!