Bartholomew County REMC will have two listening meetings for its members as the electric cooperative prepares to increase its rates for the first time since 2011.
The cooperative, which serves the Bartholomew County area outside the Columbus city limits and Geneva Township in Jennings County, is planning an 8.8 percent increase that will go into effect April 1 and be reflected in May electric bills, said Jim Turner, general manager and CEO of REMC. The cooperative also has a few customers in Decatur and Jackson counties.
The rate change includes an increase of $4.66 in the cooperative’s monthly service fee, which is used to fund the cost and maintenance of infrastructure including poles, transformers and wire, said Marty Lasure, the cooperative’s vice president of communications and member services.
The cooperative has been pursuing cost-saving measures through a variety of means to avoid a rate increase, but a need for adequate cash flow to keep the utility in a solid financial position has led to the rate-increase plan, Turner said.
An outside independent consultant was hired to study the cooperative’s rate structure and recommended the rate change was needed for financial stability to meet cash flow, loan obligations, rising costs and continued maintenance of the electrical system, Turner said.
The new rates were approved by the cooperative’s board of directors last week. The bill increase for an average residential member user in the cooperative will go from $151.38 at the current rate to $164.77 on April 1, Lasure said.
Members will have a chance to learn more about the rate change during public listening meetings at 2 and 6 p.m. Thursday, and 2 and 6 p.m. April 3 at the REMC office, 1697 W. Deaver Road.
The change will also be reviewed at 7 p.m. April 17 during the cooperative’s annual meeting in the auditorium at Columbus North High School, 1400 25th St.
For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.