Lakeland Electric (LE) is proposing raising your total monthly residential bill around two dollars. Businesses would also see minor increases.
Lakeland Electric is considering raising one charge on your electric bill - the Base Rate – around 3% in October 2018. It could be lower or slightly higher than 3% depending on your customer class (i.e. commercial, residential, industrial, etc.).
We invite you to watch the videos, look at the visuals, and read the Frequently Asked Questions and Common Terms associated with the proposed increase and let us know if you have any questions by emailing us at LEmarketing@lakelandelectric.com
• Base Rate Case animated video https://youtu.be/vt5Nx0X2FEs
• Utility Committee presentation on Revenue Requirement https://vimeo.com/267835010
• Utility Committee presentation on LE’s Strategic Planning Update https://vimeo.com/269044045/22ea055a22
• LE Rate Study - Cost of Service https://vimeo.com/273757802
• Proposed Increase Impact
• Typical Residential Customer Bill Summary
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is a “rate case”? A formal process used to determine the amount to charge customers for electricity.
2. What is “base rate”? The rate a utility must charge to cover investment in its facilities (e.g. power plants) and the cash necessary to operate on a day-to-day basis.
3. What costs does the “base rate” cover? Non-fuel operating expenses, debt service, capital maintenance/investments, and dividends to the city
4. Can you explain the four phases in a “base rate study”?
a. Discuss policy – Analyze current pricing structures and determine if they are affordable and sustainable to both the customer and the utility.
b. Determine revenue requirement – We look at how much does it cost the utility to operate so that we maintain ourselves and continue to be affordable, dependable, and sustainable.
c. Determine cost of service by customer class – this step looks at the costs incurred to serve each customer class and this is what determines a customer class’s rates.
d. Determine rate design – Once we know how much it costs to serve a customer class, we adjust the base rate up or down to capture the cost to serve the customers.
5. What phase are we in now?
The third phase – figuring out the cost of service.
6. What have we already done?
We have analyzed our policies and determined our revenue requirement.
7. What is the timetable?
We will return to the Utility Committee in May and June to discuss cost of service. We will continue to meet with the UC to present more of our findings and ask for a vote during the summer. We will also host one customer workshop and two virtual customer workshops the end of June. For more information, visit www.lakelandelectric.com/virtualmeeting
8. When was the last time you raised the base rate?
Over three years ago – February, 2015.
9. Who decides if the increase will happen?
The City Commission will vote on it.
10. What is stopping us (a monopoly) from gold-plating our system and freely frittering away money?
• For one, the City Commission and the Utility Committee. We are very mindful that we work for our community.
• Secondly, and just as important, we run ourselves like a business. We set financial and operational goals each year and check our performance against those goals just like an investor-owned utility would. And, we challenge ourselves with these goals. We do not set them arbitrarily but we base them on industry performance metrics; often targeting to achieve the top quartile in performance. In fact, many of our financial goals, such as operating ratio, customer per employee and rate competitiveness, are related to productivity and cost efficiency, and their targets have been set at top quartile. And so far, this year, we are on track to meet these goals.
• For more information on this, please watch the video “LE’s Strategic Planning Update” and review these documents:
11. How much are you considering raising the base rate?
We believe an increase of 3% on the base rate would be enough to cover the cost increases that have occurred over the last three years. Some customer classes could have a lower increase, others may have a slightly higher increase.
12. Why a 3% base rate increase?
a. Since 2015, our expenses have grown about 1.4% per year, a little under the rate of inflation, due to year-over-year increases.
b. For capital spending, we have been targeting a level of $35M per year since Fiscal Year 2015. Our real target, however, should be to invest $39M into our infrastructure each year because utilities should set their capital spending equal to their depreciation. This increased spending on capital is a cost we know we will have to undertake over the next 3 to 5 years to address our aging infrastructure.
c. Our total increased costs are $2.7 million, which when added to the budgeted $191.8 yields a revenue requirement of $194.5 million.
d. Clearly, we have a shortfall, since our revenue at existing rates is $186.9M, which is $7.6M below our revenue requirement. This $7.6M translates into a 4.8% base rate increase.
e. If you recall, we estimated we would need a 5% rate increase originally.
f. However, we believe we can get by with a 3% increase in rates, not the full 5% for two reasons - we expect our debt service to decline and we have a strong cash position.
g. Also, please note that .5% of the rate increase is earmarked for the City and will be reinvested into our community.
13. Will my whole electric bill go up by 3% or just the base rate charge?
Only the base rate charges would go up around 3%. The impact to the total bill would be around 1.8%. For example, for a typical residential customer using 1200 kilowatt hours every month, the bill would increase by $2.43.
14. What does LE do to keep costs down?
a. Keep budgets flat.
b. Right size our organization through attrition. We have decreased our budget as well as headcount by 34 positions since 2015.
c. We constantly look for operational efficiencies, from streamlining procedures so they are faster, cheaper, and better, to finding technologies that save money.
Base Rate Case Definitions (these terms are used in the April 16th Utility Committee video posted on this page):
• Revenue requirement - the amount of revenue we need to break-even on a cash basis (also known as cost of service)
• Cost of service – the amount of money it takes to provide service to each customer class
• Customer class – customers are categorized into different groups, known as classes, depending on if they are residential or commercial; commercial is further categorized by the amount of electricity the business requires
• Cost of service model –An analysis to equitably distribute the revenue requirements to the various customer classes of the utility
• Base Rate - customer charge and per kilowatt hour charge; the other parts of your bill, the environmental charge, fuel charge, and taxes and other surcharges, are decided through other processes, not a base rate study; the utility’s investment in its facilities and the cash necessary to run on a day-to-day basis
• Test year – a financial snapshot of a recent or upcoming budget year to set a starting point, a baseline, and a source for cost information; for this base rate cost study, LE is using Fiscal Year 2018’s Budget as its starting point
• Shortfall - A shortfall is clear indicator that a rate increase may be needed, and the size of the shortfall tells you how large of a rate increase in base rates is needed to break-even
• Capital spending - our investment in our infrastructure (power plants, poles, wires, etc.)