December is upon us, the time of year to celebrate what family and friends mean to us, plus to count our many blessings. It’s also a good time to review the value and benefits of your cooperative membership. You could be a member of many institutions—a gym, a 4-H club, a food-of-the-month club—the list goes on and on. But being a member of a co-op is different.
When you are a member of a co-op, you are also an owner. When you signed up to be a member of South Plains Electric Cooperative, you “bought” a stake in our business; and just like any stakeholder, you are offered the benefits of membership.
As a member, you have a say in electing the directors who democratically represent the membership on the co-op’s board. You have an opportunity to make your voice heard every year at our annual meeting. You get to register your opinion on local, state and national policy issues that your electric cooperative supports or opposes. You can even help determine how the co-op’s margins are redistributed.
South Plains Electric members have not experienced a rate increase since 2007. What other product or service do you use that hasn’t increased in price over the past nine years? If you would review your electric bills since 2007, you would actually see that we have subtracted from your bill through the Power Cost Recover Factor (PCRF) for eight years of the past nine. The reason for this was natural gas prices dropped soon after we set our new rates in 2007, so we use the PCRF to “true up” that portion of your bill on a monthly basis. Other utilities can only make these adjustments on an annual basis and by filing a rate case with the Public Utility Commission. Being a flexible, locally-owner utility, we can keep your rates steady.
Our bottom line is providing you with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, which demands that we think about expenses, overhead and other aspects of daily business. Have you noticed the amount of growth around the Lubbock area? The Cooperative has been investing huge amounts of capital into projects to help improve our local area, but we’ve come to the point that it’s not a sound financial decision to continue borrowing the necessary funds for these projects. Just like it’s not good business for our government to take on debt that our future generations will have to cover, it’s not a good business practice for your Cooperative.
So, in February 2016, the Cooperative will increase rates by 5.67 percent to help cover the costs associated with a growing system. The small increase will also help ensure the financial stability of your Cooperative for future generations. The official notice will be published in your January magazine; plus, we will be holding town-hall meetings in Lubbock, Spur and Childress so members can come ask questions and learn more about the future of their Cooperative.
The cooperative business model gives members a real stake in their economic destinies. Because cooperatives are owned and controlled by the people who use their services, decisions are made with the best interests of co-op members in mind—not to financially benefit corporate stockholders. South Plains Electric has the privilege of being a vital part of the surrounding communities. That’s the cooperative difference.