Cordova Electric Cooperative is giving its customers fair warning of an anticipated 30% increase in electric bills for January through March, due to temperatures which reduce hydro power and require use of more diesel fuel.
“We are having such a cool, dry winter; we are getting a lot of snow instead of rain,” said Clay Koplin, chief executive officer of the cooperative, who is also the city’s mayor. “That’s not good for the energy, because we have run out of river hydro.”
“With the river all frozen up, instead of 30% hydro power we’re down to 10%,” he said. “October, November and December were very dry and we were down to 8% (hydro power) by the first of the year. It varies from year to year, but we have a winter this dry about every 10 years. The last time was ‘Snowpocalypse’ (winter 2011-2012).”
The higher price of heating buildings in Cordova during such weather is two-fold.
“Less hydro power is part of the problem and rising diesel fuel costs is the main problem,” Koplin said. “It’s the well head price, the price refiners are charging, and it has just about doubled since last year.”
When that happens there’s a lot of blaming going on all around, Koplin said.
“The fact is that the price (of diesel) is going up,” he said. “If I could tell you why, I’m probably in the wrong business.”
This is one of the reasons that CEC is trying so hard to get off of diesel, he said.
“It’s so hard to predict the price and we don’t have any influence over it,” Koplin said.
Cordova’s heating systems, for homes, businesses and everything else, are running more because of the cold weather.
“If you look at just one specific, the water system, the reservoirs are also drying up and they are dumping water out of the lake, so the city is using more electricity to pump the community’s water at a time when electricity is more expensive,” he said.
The overall response to the public service announcement of anticipated rising electric costs meanwhile hasn’t generated a huge response. It’s more of a public service announcement, he said.