taking power over power

Transmission lines from a coal-fired power plant in southern Wyoming. Lower Valley faces tough decisions in the years ahead regarding what type of power it purchases and how it should distribute higher costs to members.

Last summer, readers reacted angrily when Lower Valley Energy decided to hike electricity rates in winter, rather than charge more to the heaviest consumers of power. The cooperative later backed down from the plan, but at least one commenter asked to be informed when board members are up for re-election.

Here’s your heads-up. Lower Valley has two seats open this spring, including the District 4 seat held by part-time Wilson resident Ted Ladd. The other seat is District 3, which includes Hoback Junction, Alpine, Little Horsethief Canyon and points south. Nancy Winters of Star Valley is the incumbent.

Ladd, who challenged former U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., in 2004, has been spending a lot of time in California on business. He has attended recent energy meetings via Skype.

Denny Emory of Wilson has filed to run for the seat. Emory has been following the issues for years and has said the cooperative is not pricing power fairly, failing to charge more to the heaviest users who drive up the costs for everyone. Emory would make a fine addition to the board, and residents would have no trouble sharing ideas with him, as he can be found nearly every day at Nora’s.

Lower Valley is a member-owned cooperative. That means if you pay a LVE bill, you are also an owner. Any cooperative member residing in districts 3 or 4 is eligible to run for the board.

District 3 comprises all areas north of Lincoln County Road 119, east of Highway 89 through Alpine Junction and includes Hoback Junction north to Little Horsethief Canyon, as well as the Bondurant and Green River Lakes area.

District 4 comprises all areas north of the Teton/Lincoln county line and west of Highway 89 and Fall Creek, consisting of Crescent H and Indian Paintbrush. Grand Teton National Park serves as the northern boundary, including Wilson, Teton Pines, John Dodge and Teton Village.

Prospective board members must submit a petition with signatures from any 10 LVE members, regardless of which district they reside in. Petitions may be obtained by clicking here and must be returned to either LVE office (Jackson or Afton) by 5 p.m. April 27.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics

12 Comments so far

  1. Danno April 11, 2012 7:13 pm

    So, if you run your air conditioner more than your neighbor, should you pay the same kilowatts per hour rate as your neighbor, or should you pay a higher kilowatt rate because you used more power? If the rates are the same, you will pay more by virtue of using more power. So the question is should you be assessed a higher punitive rate for using more? Because that is the logical conclusion – you think it only affects the evil company but soon enough the green gospel will be pinching you in the pocketbook. The environmentalists will always try to control your behavior – see low flow toilets and cfl bulbs. In CA the electric companies are Ytesting meters that can over ride your residential heat and ac settings – think environmentalists have anything to do with that?

  2. JFish April 11, 2012 9:59 pm

    Last month of news has been pretty lame.

  3. elsie April 12, 2012 8:20 am

    Some of those high volume users you want to penalize so badly are the ski areas and the hotels associated with them. If you raise the price of the electricity that runs the lifts and so much other equipment at the resorts, they will pass the cost off to you with higher lift ticket prices. The hotels will raise their rates which will drive down bookings. It’s all connected. Be careful what you wish for.

  4. js April 12, 2012 9:19 am

    No. There is a separate rate class for commercial. I’m talking about large residential users who can use 10 or 50 times the amount of power as the average home. These heavy users require more infrastructure, driving up the fixed costs for everyone. Lower Valley has tripled the residential base service charge, from $5 to $15 per month, in recent years. What Denny has explained to me is that, under the current pricing, someone with a 10-amp box (I don’t recall the exact statistics/unit of measure) connecting his house to the grid pays the same base charge as someone with a 100-amp box, even though it costs the cooperative more to deliver that heavy load.

    What Danno alludes to is called an “inclining block,” where users would pay a higher rate for power above a certain quantity. Personally, I’m in favor of this, as that’s exactly how Bonneville Power Administration charges Lower Valley for electricity. Besides, if we’re trying to encourage conservation, there’s no better way to discourage waste than by charging people more.

  5. D April 12, 2012 9:19 am

    We want everyone to be equal and everything to be fair. Unless of course that means we have to pay our fair share. “Insert name of Far left radical here”

    If you put this in terms of Healthcare for example, those damn cancer patents and old people should be paying way more they consume the most correct? I mean come on it’s not fair to those of us that rarely if ever visit the doctor. Once again the hypocrisy shines through loud and clear. I forget what the healthcare debate was about anyways can you remind me? That’s right now I remember we want everyone to have “affordable healthcare” we want it to be fair and unbiased. Even for those that use way more then the average person. What was your point about LVE again?

  6. Woolly April 12, 2012 6:57 pm

    Bad analogy. Cancer patients don’t choose to get cancer. Old people don’t choose to get old. We do however choose how much electricity we consume.

  7. JFish April 12, 2012 8:16 pm

    Actually Wooly,the way you live your life does have a big effect on how much heath care you will consume. That cancer patient could have been a smoker. The open heart surgery patient probably ate too many cheeseburgers. The newbies around here that go into the back country and rag doll 1000 feet down the mountain and rack up 500,000 in med bills chose that potentially reckless behavior. So you actually do have some control and how much healthcare you consume. The analogy above is not that far off actually. I see many people abusing and consuming healthcare.

  8. Woolly April 12, 2012 9:56 pm

    Fair enough JFish, I see your point, and I don’t think its completely unreasonable, but say you live a very healthy lifestyle and live to old age, and you then consume a lot of healthcare simply because of complications from being old. Sounds like a catch 22 situation to me.

    On the other hand, making the choice to consume either a little electricity or a lot of electricity is completely your decision with direct results.

  9. elsie April 13, 2012 9:06 am

    If we’re talking about having to put in heavier wire and larger transformers and bigger panel boxes, doesn’t the builder and the developer and ultimately the home buyer pay that expense? Also, I know that the price of copper has gone through the roof and that is what the wire is made of so, perhaps LVE is just passing on the cost of putting in/upgrading more infrastructure due to increased development over the last decade. Just a thought.

  10. Chad April 13, 2012 1:53 pm

    JFish and Woolly bring honest intellectual debate to light off of D’s horrible analogy. I’m not even sure what his point was, given the soupy, wavering sarcasm.

  11. joe April 14, 2012 11:12 am

    catch 22,s & disappearing paragraphs, the bermuda triangle of progressive neo politics. I think what D was saying is that people who live in the energy glass house of ski passes, shouldn’t throw stones. Denny could be good, old school integraty, more IQ than GQ

  12. Denny Emory May 4, 2012 6:21 pm

    Wow. Ever heard that joke that worked its way around the room and then back to you ?

    I am running for the Board of LVE in District 4 and did indeed have a conversation with Jim over coffee at Nora’s some time back. As he was a reported for NAG back in 2006 when I was on an LVE Member Advisory Committee we did have a conversation about power rates – residential power rates to be specific. LVE actually has five rate categories – residenial, small commercial, industrial, irrigation and JR Simplot as a stand alone.

    In that committee we advised a flat rate structure for all residential customers, replacing the “declining block / regressive rate” ( use more / pay less ) structure that had been in place for many years. We also did adjust the monthly capital facilities / base charge. Property owners do indeed pay a significant portion of the cost of the electrical service installation onto one’s property – trenching, cable, service entrance, meter base…. with an allowance from LVE. That is a separate issue.

    The monthly capital facilities / base charge is designed to cover the cost of the LVE infrastructure and maintenance within the system and a related portion of the cost of the entire generating and transmission system all the way to the source – in our case BPA in the northwest. Waht is important to note is that when a service is connected to the system LVE is required to be able to provide up to ~80% of the connected load at any given time. As a result the size and scale of the entire operation must be able to handle this entire combined load, whether needed at any give time or not.

    To calculate the LVE residential rate structure for all, each hook-up / meter is charged a flat capital facilities / monthly base charge. This charge is a fixed amount, currently set at $15.00 per meter base for all residential customers regardless of the size of service. The monthly energy charge / base rate is then determined by just dividing up the cost of all the residental electricity used by LVE residential customers after the portion covered by the capital facilities / monthly base charges have been deducted.

    The conversation I had with Jim was that if the capital facilities / monthly base charge was based upon the size of the service, a larger portion of the overall pie could be covered by these charges and the residential monthly energy charge could actually be reduced for all residential customers.

    Case in point. An average three bedroom house probably has a 200 amp. service. A very large house may have a service of 2,000 amps or more. At this time both customers pay the same capital facilities / monthly base charge; yet, LVE is required to have the system to provide ten times the potential demand to the larger house.

    The intent would be to have an overall residential rate structure that is fair and equitable to all residential customers regardless of the size of the house.

    LVE ballots will be sent out to all member owners in late May – early June. Please participate.

    Cheers -

    Denny

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