COVID-19 impacts material price/availability
The quick development of an effective vaccine for COVID-19 has allowed businesses to return to some version of normal for the first time since early 2020. Strict requirements on screenings, mask rules and quarantines have been somewhat relaxed in our service area. Although COVID-19 may seem like it’s in the rearview mirror, the truth is the impact of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come in our communities and our co-op.
SLVREC’s team will continue to work directly with members who face difficult financial circumstances. Our team is experienced with helping members apply for payment plans and connecting them with community organizations that can offer bill payment assistance.
Another long-term impact of COVID-19 we’re starting to see come to life is an increase in the price and availability of various materials. Demand for electrical equipment is high and supplier pricing has followed that trend in recent months as many parts remain on backorder. Due to these ongoing supply issues, the timeline for receiving materials could be up to one year delaying new service installations.
SLVREC is fortunate to have an on-site warehouse with direct access to much of what’s needed to maintain our electrical grid, but pricing and purchasing challenges may be here to stay for the near future. For example, something as simple as a 20-foot stick of 3-inch PVC pipe that was $23 a year ago is now $107 for the same piece ($1.15/foot to $5.35/foot). A 40’ pole cost $597.96 a year ago, and now the price is $713.27. These materials are used regularly in maintenance work and new installations. New transformers are nearly unobtainable, so refurbished transformers are being considered.
All of these individual costs add up and impact the cost of doing business. Every department in our co-op is working to keep costs down so that the organization can remain in a strong financial position. SLVREC remains focused on continuing to achieve our mission of providing utility services with diligence, effective communication, leadership, responsiveness and innovation that enhance the lives of our membership and surrounding communities.