As Industry Changes, So Will Electric Rates

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

There are reasons utilities have to restructure their rates. In the past, electricity was generated by serving consumers with large centralized coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants. The utility either owned generation plant assets or had them under long-term contracts. Your power came from those plants controlled by your utility. Today, the ownership hasn’t changed but the market has. No longer does your utility’s plant necessarily supply the energy you use. Most utilities now belong to organizations with day-ahead energy markets. It’s a market that expands far beyond the borders of your local supplier giving access to a larger pool of generation sources. 

In addition, utility scale renewables like wind and solar are playing a larger role in energy production. We have managed to accommodate renewables into our portfolios despite their intermittent nature. 

The real challenge and driver for rate changes comes with consumer or “behind-the-meter” production of energy. Current rate structures were never designed to recover the cost incurred to serve “standby or backup power” for those who self-generate. Nor do current rates properly reward self-generators when they benefit the grid. We have to adapt to the next form of generation even if it is a small overall contributor.

For most consumers, the change from simple rate structures to more complex will go unnoticed. The total monthly amount due in a redesigned rate will be about the same for a large majority of consumers. And like today, most consumers won’t care about much beyond the amount due.

In the end, new rate structures should not be feared. They actually give all consumers who want to aggressively manage their energy costs a greater opportunity to do so.

 

Build Memories Through Traveling

Gary McCune
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

 

Yes, Virginia there is life outside Oklahoma’s borders. The theme of this issue of Oklahoma Living is travel. If my wife Yolanda and I have a hobby, it would be traveling.

We have been blessed to have had the time and resources to travel to over 35 foreign countries, six continents and all but two Canadian provinces. 

Also, we told our three sons that we would take them to all 50 states before they graduated high school. We wanted them to see and experience how life and cultures were different in other parts of the country. Completion took a little longer. They were in college and we had a daughter-in-law and two grandkids before we finished Alaska and Hawaii, but they didn’t seem to mind making the trips. Some trips were just camping on the beach in Galveston (with mosquitoes the size of your thumb) or getting the Hilton Penthouse in Chicago for the regular rate of our room; just whatever we could do at the time to fulfill our goal and give them those experiences. 

Now, it is hard to keep them home. As I write, our motorhome is headed to Daytona for the 500. Yes, I was invited, but Yolanda and I will be on the other end of the continent in San Diego. Maybe next time.

We continue to take family vacations every year, although it does get more challenging coordinating schedules and activities for 17 of us. We feel there are few bonding experiences that can be achieved better than spending time together and sharing new adventures. However, no matter where we had traveled, it was always a welcome sight to see our own driveway here in Stillwater. 

In Oklahoma, we are blessed that we don’t have to travel far for an adventure. In this issue of OKL, there are highlighted destinations close to home you can visit. Explore Oklahoma’s diverse ecosystems from the Panhandle’s mesa and dinosaur tracks to the pine forests of southeast Oklahoma. Chances are pretty good that you will experience something you did not expect and be able to build your own travel memories.

Happy traveling!