DEC's Board Approves PCA Increase as The Cost for Natural Gas Rises
Over the past few months, the price of virtually everything has increased — in some cases dramatically. Groceries, fuel, and materials now cost significantly more than they did one year ago. Unfortunately, Delaware Electric Cooperative is not immune from the cost pressures created by the largest increase in inflation in three decades. As of December 15, the cost of natural gas used to generate much of your power has increased 60 percent since last year. We had hoped to be able to absorb these increased costs through late 2022. As a not-for-profit utility, DEC has no choice but to pass those costs along to our members. During a virtual public hearing on Feb. 16, our board approved an adjustment to that portion of your electric bill that reflects changes in our cost of purchasing power supply called the Power Cost Adjustment or “PCA”. The overall impact of this adjustment has resulted in an eight percent rate increase to the average residential electric bill. This is the first overall increase that DEC has had since 2019.
The power cost adjustment (PCA) has increased from $0.013 per kWh to $0.023, adding approximately $10 per month to the average residential member’s bill (1,000 kWh per month).
The increase takes effect on March 1. Even with the adjustment, your electric rates will still be among the lowest in the region. DEC members save hundreds of dollars per year on utility costs compared to those served by other providers.
At a time when you are already paying more for everyday necessities, we know this will come as unwelcome news. We will do everything we can to keep rates as affordable as possible, including utilizing our Beat the Peak program to lower overall energy prices. Our rates are still significantly cheaper than most other utilities in the region.
Why Are Rates Going Up?
The cost of energy has increased dramatically over the past year and DEC is no longer able to absorb these costs. Every business across the nation is feeling the pain associated with record inflation. Increases in the price of natural gas are driving our rates higher. Aside from energy costs, the price for the materials our linemen use to keep your lights on has risen by 12 percent since last year. The cost of fuel used to power our fleet of bucket trucks and equipment has also skyrocketed.
To keep rates as affordable as possible, we encourage you to continue to participate in our Beat the Peak program. During times of peak energy use, mainly during the summer, DEC asks members to voluntarily conserve energy, reducing members’ cost for power. Since 2008, the program has saved members more than $34 million. Members saved nearly $2 million in 2021 alone. To learn more about how to participate in our Beat the Peak program, please visit www.beatthepeak.coop.
How Can I Lower My Bill As Rates Change?
With the cost of energy and everything else increasing, here are a few tips to help you save energy and money during these cold winter months.
• Set thermostats to 68 degrees in winter.
• Run ceiling paddle fans on low, spinning clockwise in winter.
• Change HVAC filters monthly.
• When installing new air filters, make sure they are facing in the correct direction
(look for arrow on side of filter).
• When heating, keep windows locked.
• Insulate electric wall outlets and wall switches with foam pads.
• Caulk around plumbing pipes that come through walls beneath
bathroom and kitchen sinks.
• Ensure attic access door closes tightly.
• Do not close off unused rooms that are conditioned by forced-air systems.
• Do not close supply air registers.
• Check to be sure return air grilles are not blocked by furniture or bookcases.
• Ensure windows and doors are properly weather-stripped.
• Have your HVAC system serviced once per year by a NATE-certified technician.
• Consider signing up for a low-cost Delaware home energy audit
by visiting www.energizedelaware.org.