The purpose of electric rates is to cover the three main costs areas:
- the costs associated with purchasing power and transmission services from Platte River Power Authority.
- the costs associated with operating, maintaining and upgrading the distribution system: the power lines, poles, customer service connections, meters, and street lights that make up the local electric system.
- the costs associated with customer service, billing and collection, and meter reading.
The different rate groups share out the total cost responsibility between the various customer classes to ensure the financial integrity of the department and the Town.
The Town of Estes Park conducts rate studies on a three-year cycle to ensure continued high-quality utility services and plan for future upgrades through capital improvement projects. These studies review the cost of providing services as well as projected revenue - the rates paid by customers. The Town's public electric utility is a cost-based entity that relies solely on user fees to operate. Costs and revenues must be balanced in order to maintain operations and keep utilities in line with ever-increasing federal standards and customer needs and expectations.
Previous rate studies were conducted in 2016 and 2011. The planned 2013 rate study and adjustments were waived by the Town Board due to the floods and ensuing recovery efforts.
2019/2020 Electric Rate Study
This study is undergoing final review by department staff and will be presented to the Town Board in early spring. Residents can also review this information at the Utilities Department in Town Hall, Room 100, and at the Estes Valley Library.
Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Estes Park electric rate public hearing is now scheduled for the August 25 Town Board meeting. Electric rate study materials are linked above. Meeting materials are available the week before each Town Board meeting at www.estes.org/boardsandmeetings. Public comments are encouraged.
If adopted, new rates would take effect with usage beginning January 1, 2021.
- 2020 Proposed Electric Rate Changes: FAQs
1. Why does the Town have to review and increase utility rates?
a) To ensure continued high-quality water and electric utility services and plan for future upgrades through capital improvement projects, the Town of Estes Park periodically reviews the cost of providing services as well as projected revenue – the rates paid by customers. An electric rate study was just completed.
b) The Town’s public electric utility relies solely on user fees to operate. Costs and revenues must be balanced in order to maintain operations, plan for critical upgrades, and keep utilities in line with ever-increasing federal standards and customer expectations. Current rates do not meet current needs.
c) For a municipal electric utility like the Town of Estes Park, it involves two major operations – the distribution of electricity and capital improvements to the system. Upkeep of these systems is a critical part of maintaining high-quality electric service.
d) The last time an electric rate study was conducted was in 2016. Since that time the Town Board voted to approve the establishment of a municipal broadband utility. The new rate study excludes all broadband costs from the proposed electric rates. Rates are not impacted by the new broadband utility.
e) Another purpose of the electric rate study is to make sure rates are equitable among different customer classes. This helps ensure the costs to deliver electric power is equitably divided. For example, some commercial customers require much larger transformers. To provide electricity to these customers, we must increase our distribution system capacity. The rates are designed to account for the higher cost of providing service to customers who need more electricity.
2. What upgrades are needed to the electric system?
Power and Communications maintains a list of capital improvement projects which will improve service reliability and quality. Many of the projects replace old infrastructure with our current standards to meet today’s higher demand for electric power using more robust products.
a) Power and Communications will construct smart grid infrastructure in parallel with the broadband installation. Smart grid modernizes our electric grid to enable increased renewable energy resources.
b) Older power poles and overhead lines are being upgraded with insulated tree cable to increase wildlife protection, increase power quality, reduce power outages and wildfire risk.
c) Power and Communications will continue the deployment of smart meters. More smart fuses will be installed across the electric system to increase reliability and reduce the number of power outages. Electric rates do not support Trailblazer broadband, although our smart grid system (smart fuses and smart meters) requires a fiber network. Electric rates will fund only the smart fiber portion needed for the electric system.
d) Power lines in the Allenspark area of Skinner and Ski Roads will be replaced with insulated tree cable to increase wildlife protection, increase power quality, and reduce power outages and wildfire risk.
3. How can customers follow and participate in this process?
a. The Town has established a web page with information on the electric rate study and recommended rates. Visit www.estes.org/electricrates. Customers can also review this information at the Utilities Department in Town Hall, Room 100, and at the Estes Valley Library.
b. Customers are encouraged to participate in upcoming electric rate discussions at meetings of the Estes Park Town Board. Visit www.estes.org/boardsandmeetings for final dates and complete meeting details:
1) March 10: Town Board meeting to review draft rate plan
2) Submit comments to the Town Clerk at email@example.com or Room 130 of Town Hall
3) April 14 (tentative): Final public hearing and potential adoption of new rates
4. How will this affect my electric bill?
a. How your electric bill changes depends on the final rates adopted by the Town Board. Customers are encouraged to review the proposed rates and determine how the rates will affect their future bills and overall expenses.
b. To reduce the immediate impact on customers, the current rate study recommends rate gradual increases to occur beginning with usage in June of 2020, in January of 2021 and again in January of 2022.
5. For general information visit www.estes.org/electricrates or call the Town of Estes Park Utilities Department at 970-577-3588. For questions on how changes could affect your bill, call Utility Billing at 970-586-5331.
- 2016 Electric Rate Study