The Vermont Electric Cooperative has announced that despite steadily climbing costs, the coop will not increase electric rates next year.
CEO Christine Hallquist said the utility was preparing for a 3 percent rate increase in customers’ rates next year, but leadership called on employees across the company to identify areas for savings or for more efficient operations.
The result of that work, Hallquist said, was a budget that works without increasing power costs for customers.
“So it really was the collective engagement of the entire work force that helped us mitigate this cost pressure,” she said.
The cost pressure has been steady for years. Hallquist says VEC's costs have been growing at 2 to 3 percent a year, and the company is doing what it can to find savings so rates don't grow at the same speed. She says the cooperative’s rates in the past eight years are rising at about 0.9 percent annually.
But Hallquist warns that the company's costs are likely to keep increasing, and VEC isn't going to be able to protect its customers from all of that.
“We are going to see greater cost pressures in the future, and really one of the biggest pressures that maybe we don't have as much control over are the costs of transmission,” she said. “That's the greatest part of our budget growth every year.”
Hallquist says that improvements to the regional electricity grid aren't under VEC's control, but VEC still has to pay its share to use the grid. That could mean higher rates for customers in the future if the company can't find more savings.