Pioneer Electric will not raise base electricity rate in near future

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Special to the Advocate

Pioneer Electric Cooperative has announced that they do not intend to increase their base rate for electricity for the foreseeable future.

A recent wholesale power increase prompted Pioneer Electric Cooperative and other electric cooperatives to consider passing this rate increase on to members. While several cooperatives elected to increase their base rate charge to members, Pioneer Electric Cooperative officials say that, through frugal spending and the implementation of strict budgeting policies, they intend to absorb the higher energy cost and not increase their members' base rates.

&#8220Pioneer Electric Cooperative and its board of trustees have put into action an aggressive five-year plan that will lead the cooperative into a prosperous future,” says Steve Harmon, Pioneer Electric Cooperative executive vice president and general manager. &#8220It is our duty to ensure a reliable and affordable energy supply for our members. That is why we have decided to leave our base rate the same for now.”

Rising fuel costs remain a concern for electric utilities nationwide, and increased fuel costs have become an unfortunate reality for our nation. Both consumers and utilities are feeling the crunch of high prices.

Several issues that influence fuel costs include demand (or usage), decreased domestic supply and natural disasters - such as hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico - that disrupt supply. Gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, propane and coal all fall subject to similar conditions that affect cost.

&#8220As the demand for energy continues to rise and the costs of fuels increase, Pioneer Electric Cooperative is committed to providing safe and affordable electricity at the lowest possible cost: a value we can all fit into our budgets,” Harmon says.

Pioneer Electric Cooperative's electricity is generated using a diverse mix of fuels - natural gas, coal, hydro and fuel oil - and as a result, overall fuel costs are more stable than they are for a utility heavily dependent upon a single generation source. The majority of Pioneer Electric Cooperative's energy is derived from coal-fired resources and natural gas generation. Therefore, they are somewhat protected against volatile increases in the price of a single fuel.

Additionally, Pioneer Electric Cooperative minimizes rate increases by partnering with other electric cooperatives in Alabama and northwest Florida through their wholesale power supplier, Alabama Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AEC), headquartered in Andalusia, Ala. Through this partnership, they pool their resources to gain economies of scale to further minimize the impact of rising fuel costs.

&#8220Electricity is provided to our members near wholesale, because we're committed to maximizing your energy dollar,” says Harmon. &#8220Although no one knows what the future holds, we can prepare today to meet tomorrow's challenges head-on.”

Pioneer Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Greenville, Ala., serves more than 13,000 members over 2,734 miles of line in Butler, Lowndes, Dallas, Wilcox, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw and Monroe counties.