The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Power bills may lessen under proposal

CVEA readies to unveil tariff changes for consumers


There is good news waiting for many residential-class members of Copper Valley Electric Association. CVEA has scheduled informational meetings for Valdez and Glennallen area members to explain the results – and ensuing changes proposed – after the co-op conducted its board mandated rate study.

“What we’re hoping to do is simplify it,” Jaime Matthews, CVEAs manager of administration and finance, said of the proposed changes.

But explaining what the changes mean to a person’s residential electricity bill can be complicated, a fact Matthews admitted.

To help customers better understand how the new rate structure will affect monthly residential bills, the Valdez Star asked Matthews to calculate a staff member’s electric bill from January and show how much the same bill would be under the proposed tariff change. The calculation showed a 3.8 percent decrease.

Matthews said she will be able to do the same for members with their own actual bills during the upcoming informational meetings.

According to the notice CVEA is publishing in the week’s edition of the Valdez Star, the proposed changes will “result in an overall system average rate increase of 0.2 percent, but will range from a 4.7 percent decrease to a 3.0 percent increase, depending on rate class.”

This includes residential, commercial and other classes of consumer. The notice can be found in full on page 6 of this edition of the Valdez Star.

“In general, our residential rate is going down,” Matthews said.

Another significant change is the way revenue from sales of heat to Petro Star from the cogeneration plant will be allocated. The new proposal will permanently apply 90 percent of revenues from heat sales to a credit to offset fuel charges on bills. And the credit will apply to all rate classes but “Industrial.” Under the current system, the CVEA board must approve credits to offset fuel charges, and it has only applied to residential members.

Ironically, CVEA has only one customer in the Industrial class – Petro Star Refinery.

The expected offset will be six to nine percent of fuel costs during the months that heat-sale revenues are generated according to Matthews. This is typically during winter months when the Solomon Gulch Hydro plant is mostly offline and electricity is generated at the Petro Star Refinery through the CVEA-owned cogeneration plant. CVEA generates electricity through the cogeneration plant and in turn sells heat from the plant back to Petro Star for its refining operations.

Categories of charges on monthly bills will also change.

The current Cost of Power Charge – which is a combination of fuel and hydro costs – will be changed to a Fuel Charge and will reflect only the actual price of fuel.

Valdez Star photo

An actual electric bill from CVEA for one month of electricity for a small cabin in Valdez would have been 3.8 percent cheaper under the proposed new tariff.

The change in how fuel costs are calculated is made possible by the addition of a new line item on bills, the Generation and Transmission Charge.

“The GTC charge covers all our fixed costs to make power,” Matthews said.

Numerous other changes are proposed that could cost more for the various categories of commercial users, especially in the Copper Basin according to the published notice.

CVEA is encouraging its members to attend upcoming informational meetings which are slated for Thursday, March 8, in Valdez and Wednesday, March 7, in Glennallen. Both meetings will be begin a 6 p.m. The Valdez meeting will be held at the Civic Center and in Glennallen members will meet at CVEAs office board room.

“We’ll be giving a detailed presentation,” at the informational meetings Matthews said.


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