At Decatur County REMC, we know our members put a lot of trust in us to be responsible with their money. That trust is at the forefront every time we purchase new equipment or invest in upgrades for the electric system. Is this necessary to our mission of providing affordable and reliable service? How will this help us to serve members better?
The same is true when it comes to setting rates and cost adjustments for the electric service our members depend upon. As a not-for-profit utility, we never charge more than what is needed to maintain and operate the electric system responsibly. If there are funds left over, we return them to members in the form of capital credits.
As a result, members can trust that the money they put into their cooperative comes back to them, whether as quality electric service or as a refund check. You can also trust that when we are forced to adjust costs and rates, we will only do so with a good reason.
General economic forces, along with changes to the electric industry, are adding up. Members have surely noticed the impact of inflation on their own wallets, whether it’s sticker shock at the grocery store or the gas pump. Electric cooperatives are not immune to inflation, which has led to an increase in the cost of the electricity, materials, and equipment we rely on every day to operate and maintain our system.
Toward the end of 2021, global energy costs began to increase dramatically due to inflation, supply chain issues created by the pandemic, and most recently, the war in Ukraine. Coal prices are up nearly 300% since this time last year, and natural gas prices have increased more than 100% year-over-year. This has resulted in wholesale power prices increasing more than 175%.
Decatur County REMC is a member-owner of Hoosier Energy, the generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative that provides electric power and services to us and 17 other distribution cooperatives in Indiana and Illinois. Decatur County REMC and Hoosier Energy are both non-profit organizations owned by those we serve, including you.
Hoosier Energy generates and transmits electric power, and Decatur County REMC distributes the power to homes, farms and businesses. Natural gas, coal and power costs represent more than half of Hoosier Energy’s annual operating costs.
Through sound management and stewardship, Decatur County REMC has absorbed a good deal of these higher costs. However, because of continued industry-wide increases, we must now spend more on purchasing electricity than the cooperative can absorb. Unfortunately, this means we must, in turn, pass some of those costs onto our members.
Looking ahead, few people can speak with any confidence about what future energy policy and costs may look like. But there is some good news. While most of these factors are global and are beyond our control, our own energy use is not. We encourage all of our members to be mindful of the ways they use electricity on a daily basis and how they can save energy around the house.
To discuss this more, please give me a call. Decatur County REMC will always keep reliability and affordability at the forefront of all we do.