Resources & FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
Did the San Luis Valley REC raise electric rates to collect more revenue overall?
We expect to generate about the same amount of revenue from electric consumers this year and next year as we did last year. Although we’ve heard concerns from some members who saw their bills increase, there has been a roughly equal amount of savings for other members. The goal was not to generate more overall revenue but to more equitably share costs among members based on how and when they use power and the demands they put on the electric grid, the system of power generation, transmission and distribution that provides reliable power 24/7.
Why were demand charges introduced for residential consumers?
Electric rates with a demand component, which charges for relatively brief spikes in a member’s electricity usage, have been around for a long time for farmers who irrigate and other large commercial users. But previously, the technology didn’t exist to measure these spikes in usage among residential consumers.
In the last few years, the REC has changed residential members’ meters. The new meters allow the REC to measure not just how much total electricity consumers use over a month but more precisely when that electricity is used.
Why is it important to measure and charge for spikes in demand?
Demand pricing more fairly shares the costs that these spikes in electricity usage place on the electric grid. It can encourage people to make simple adjustments to their electricity usage patterns to reduce overall costs to the system – and that benefits everyone.
The electric grid must have enough capacity to meet the highest spikes in demand when a lot of consumers use a lot of power at the same time. Spreading out electricity use and avoiding big spikes reduces the demands on – and the overall costs of maintaining – the power grid. Remember that users can moderate these spikes in usage. One example would be staggering when they run appliances that use a lot of power and not turning them all on at once.
Why were the rates revised again this year, starting Dec. 1?
REC members concerned that they were paying more under the new rate structure filed complaints with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. One complaint was filed by a couple dozen members and another was filed by the Town of Crestone. Earlier this year there was a preliminary hearing to discuss those complaints, but it was agreed to try mediation instead to see if an agreement could be reached without a drawn-out and potentially expensive legal process. In line with the agreement reached in the mediation process, the demand charge was significantly reduced, effective Dec. 1 and will remain at that rate until April 1, 2021.
For the rates that have a purchase power demand charge (Time of Day), that demand is measured during the peak period, which is Monday through Saturday, 12 noon through 10 p.m.
There is also a distribution demand charge which is the highest 15-minute usage during the billing month (which is a calendar month). This charge covers the cost of the electric infrastructure in place to keep homes and businesses connected to REC.
Previously, REC’s fixed costs were included in the kilowatt-hour charge and since up until just a few years ago, that methodology worked to fairly recover the cost of providing electricity. As more and more net meter installations occurred, those REC members who did not have a net meter installation were increasingly subsidizing members with those net meter installations. Essentially, members without net meters were helping to pay net meter owners’ investments. With the new demand rate in place, this is no longer the case.
The original Cost of Service Study indicated the need for a six percent rate increase for the Time of Day customers. With the April 1 rate change those members could have seen an approximate six percent increase if their ETS units were appropriately sized for the space and used diligently and other electric appliances were controlled. The interim rate, which went into effect on Dec. 1, 2019 as a result of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission complaint settlement, substantially reversed the benefit of using the ETS unit diligently on off-peak hours.
The REC has been piloting demand controllers, which in many instances have great potential to help members manage demand. As REC continues to gain experience on how these devices can benefit members, the information will be shared.
As more appliances in your home run simultaneously, the rate at which you are consuming electricity increases. For example: Mary and Joe both use 3.3 kwh when cooking dinner and running their dishwashers— 1.5 kwh for the range and 1.8 kwh for the dishwasher. However, Mary cooks her food for one hour, then she runs her dishwasher the next hour. Joe cooks his food and runs the dishwasher while he’s cooking. Mary’s total demand is 1.8 kw, whereas Joe’s is 3.3 kw. Both members are using the same amount of energy but putting a different demand on the electric grid.
SLVREC's Energy Foundation and GEO's Weatherization Program work with local weatherization agencies throughout the state to provide free weatherization services to Colorado residents. Qualified homeowners or renters can apply for these services by contacting their local weatherization agency. Visit our Weatherization and Energy Savings Programs page for more information.
In addition to making a payment through the mail, online, over the phone or in person at SLVREC's office in Monte Vista, you can also make a payment at any of the following banks: First Southwest Bank branches in Alamosa, Center, Del Norte and Saguache; Community Banks branches in Alamosa, Antonito, Center, Crestone, Del Norte, La Jara, Moffat, Monte Vista, San Luis, South Fork and Saguache and Miners & Merchants Bank in Creede.
First, check your fuses or breakers. Make sure they are all on. If you find a problem with the fuses or breakers, you will need to contact a local electrician for repairs. Any equipment beyond the member's meter is the responsibility of the member.
If you determine that your fuses and breakers are okay, check with your neighbors to see if their power is off. When you call the office to report an outage, please provide your name, address, phone number and any information you have on what may have caused the outage. In most cases we will attempt to call back to confirm that your power has been restored.
It is important that you call the cooperative directly. Please do not tie up emergency responders' lines at police or fire departments to report an outage unless the outage has been created by or is creating a life-threatening emergency. If our crews are requested to respond to such an outage and the problem is on the member's side of the meter, the member may be billed the actual cost of labor and overhead.
Report outages 24 hours a day at 719-852-3538 or 800-332-7634
Every account at SLVREC must pay a wires and maintenance charge each month, even if you have no use on your account. This fee covers fixed maintenance costs for the substations and power lines and poles that provide your service. This fee makes it possible for you to have electric service at your home or business.
A cooperative is a type of business organization; co-ops are member-owned and democratically controlled. Unlike other types of businesses, cooperatives are not managed by a board of shareholders in a distant location. Cooperatives are locally owned and locally controlled. More information on cooperatives, SLVREC's board of directors, SLVREC's annual meeting and other topics can be found in the About Us section of this website.
At this time, Colorado has not deregulated the electric utility industry. You may not choose your utility provider. Service territory maps are available at SLVREC's office if you would like to verify the utility who serves a specific location.
As a cooperative, each and every member has a voice through the cooperative's elected board of directors. If you have a comment, good or bad, contact the board member for the service territory in which you reside. You can find contact information for all of the cooperative's directors on page 2 of each issue of the cooperative's newsletter, The Newsboy.
If you prefer to contact the cooperative via email, send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Place a directive in the subject line of your message so that the message can be directed to the appropriate individual.