The Pueblo West View

Letter: SIEA rate increases

Like most members of San Isabel Electric Association, I seldom voted for board members.

During the last public hearing notice on rate adjustments and fees, I almost didn’t pay attention to the notice, especially since they scheduled the hearing four days before Christmas.

But I did attend and protested the increase, with a hand full of neighbors.

All we heard was blaming others, their supplier Tri-State Electric (which they own with 43 other electric coops) raising its rates, the federal government/EPA requirements mandate lower fossil fuel emissions, etc.

All true to a degree, but never once did the board mention the impact on rates that their own massive spending was having, resulting in a long-term debt increase of 68 percent or $41 million over the last six years.

January we now have the highest rate of the 22 coops in Colorado.

Since that hearing, I’ve been attending board meeting and studying the audited financials since 2007.

What does adding $41 million of long-term debt translate into for the average member using 700 kWh per month? On an annual basis $175.36.

Since the rate adjustment was only 8.75 percent, why are some of us feeling so much pain?

What they did is shift the increase to the average user of 700kWh/month and the ETS, 900 members, raising them 17 to 40 percent, while members using 1,200kWh/month or more are seeing a decrease.

I’ve learned that our SIEA board or directors have absolute power to set rates with no over site from anyone except the members.

They approve all capital spending and budgets. I can say they are all good and well meaning.

However, we take it for granted that they are looking out for our money, spending it wisely, to keep our rates as low as possible.

On July 1, I attended the nominating committee meeting.

Since each board member selects a member to the nominating committee, it took less than five minutes to nominate Debbie Rose, District 1 Beulah/Wetmore and Don Keairns, District 6 La Veta Area, and close nominations.

Ashley Valdez, SIEA did announce that she had petition packets all made up and that any member of Districts 1 and 6, could be nominated by having only 15 signatures on a petition, submitted by Aug. 6. She can be reached at 647-6268 and her cell is 250-0935, if you think you’re more qualified to serve the members from your district, you should run.

Capital Credits is a whole another issue. SIEA has been in violation of notifying members of what they are due in Capital Credits which should be on a yearly basis, after the auditor’s report in April. That’s now scheduled to happen almost immediately after the annual meeting and board election, Sept. 20.

I’ve started a monthly newsletter to concerned members.

If you wish to contact me, with your comments, questions or ideas my email is Active together we do have a voice.

Richard VanSchaardenburg


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