Flint Energies to raise basic monthly charge
According to a news release, effective with member billings that begin on April 1, Flint Energies' basic monthly charge for residential customers will increase from $21 per month to $22. This moves the service charge closer to the true cost-of-service for residential members, which the Co-op measures today at about $30 per month per consumer.
The increase in the basic monthly charge will be another step in executing an equity management plan to increase the residential base charge by $1 a year, to $27 per month, by 2017. The gradual increase is an effort to move closer to the actual cost-of-service that has been identified in the last three rate studies. At least one neighboring electric utility recently made a larger leap to a $28 per month base charge.
Flint Energies conducts a rate study every two years to ensure that our rates cover the costs of providing service. Flint's new wholesale power contracts will take effect in 2015; our estimates predict that wholesale power costs will increase some 28 percent by then. Unfortunately, this dramatic increase is caused by things out of Flint's control, such as increased regulation and environmental requirements like pollution control, which will be reflected in current and future power contracts.
As a fiscally responsible electric cooperative, Flint is looking at managing this increase now instead of later. By gradually increasing the basic monthly charge over the next few years instead of significantly increasing the basic monthly charge in a shorter amount of time, Flint will try to soften the blow of the increase for our members.
These changes allow our Cooperative to meet financial needs and continue to provide reliable electric service, according to Flint CEO Bob Ray. "Our goal is to work every day to achieve the best operating efficiencies as we face rising power costs. Even with the slight increase in the basic monthly charge, the value of electricity remains very high," Ray says.
Option for low-income members
Members who receive a Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) check to help them pay for electricity will be placed on Flint's low-income rate. Members who confirm their LIHEAP standing with a check payment will be eligible for a reduced base service charge of $12, instead of $22 per month after Apr. 1, 2013.
Due to a change in the Cooperative's billing and payment schedules, Flint has changed some of its policies on billing period and payment of bills. These changes will affect the billing period, receipt and payment of bills, arrangements and late payment charges. Flint is a not-for-profit electric cooperative. When a handful of members fail to meet their obligation to pay in a timely manner, ultimately all other cooperative member-owners pay for those losses. The policy changes are as follows:
Effective January 1, 2013
•Late Fees Electric accounts that are not paid by the due date will be subject to a 5% late payment charge. The late payment charge may be imposed on monthly electric accounts where the payment is not received in a Flint office by 5:00 p.m. on the due date printed on the bill. Flint reserves the right to discontinue service on accounts not paid by the disconnect date on the bill. •Due Dates Each account will have a minimum of nineteen (19) days from the date billed in which to submit payment. The due date will generally be the same each month. Due dates may fall on weekends or holidays observed by the Cooperative. •Arrangements A member's account will not be eligible for an arrangement if the account has a "collect"status. In an effort to reduce bad debt losses caused by members not paying for the electric service they have received, Flint has changes some of its policies on security deposits. The policy changes are as follows:
Effective April 1, 2013
•Deposits May Rise For residential accounts, a member that incurs two disconnects for non-payment within 13 months will have their deposit increased to the greater of $500 or two times the average bill. A member may opt for Pay Your Way prepaid billings instead of paying the deposit.