Washington Electric Co-op (WEC), a member-owned utility serving central Vermont, is filing for a 5.95 percent rate increase with Vermont’s Public Utility Commission (PUC).

The planned increase will take effect January 1, 2020 and will become permanent pending PUC approval. Major drivers for the rate increase include:

•Required funds to meet lender ratio requirements

•Compensation for lost revenue due to net metering installations

•Purchased power cost increases

•Normal operations and management costs

A recovering Renewable Energy Credit (REC) market helped keep the rate increase below 6 percent.  Revenue from selling RECs from WEC’s 100 percent renewable power generation plants helps offset rate increases.

“We don’t like increasing rates. We’re a rural electric cooperative, and affordability is important to us,” said Patty Richards, WEC’s General Manager. “We were able to take some of the sting out of this one thanks to our ability to sell RECs for a higher price than a year ago.

”Utility rate increases are subject to PUC review and approval. Any difference between the requested 5.95 percent increase and the actual increase will be refunded to members. The Co-op’s last rate increase took effect 12 months earlier, on January 1, 2019. Over several years, WEC and other Vermont utilities have seen electricity sales decline while operating costs increase. This combination pressures utilities to increase rates. WEC is working to address this through changing the way it charges for electricity service. “We are working on a long term solution to lower rate pressure by redesigning our rates,” said Richards, in part by increasing a monthly member fee and reducing the cost per kilowatt hour.The PUC is considering WEC’s rate redesign proposal in a separate proceeding.

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