Electric Rates - Purpose
The purpose of electric rates is to cover 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.
Within the rate structure, 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.
2021 Electric Rates Summary (Rates effective from January 2021 until superseded)
The electric rate classes are described in detail in Appendix 1.1 of the Power and Communications Policy and Procedures.
2016 Electric Rates (Rates effective from September 2016 until January 2021)
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. Implementation of the 2019 rate study was postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2019/2020 Electric Rate Study
The Estes Park Town Board approved gradual electric rate increases at the September 8, 2020 board meeting. Rates take effect January 2021, beginning with usage in January and reflected on utility bills received in February 2021.
Customers interested in reviewing the public hearings regarding the rate study are encouraged to watch the presentations to the Town Board.
- March 10, 2020 Town Board: the rate study presentation begins at 23 minutes into the meeting.
- August 25, 2020 Town Board: the rate study public hearing begins at 47 minutes into the meeting.
- September 8, 2020 Town Board: the rate study public hearing begins at 47 minutes into the meeting.
- 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 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 January of 2021, in January of 2022 and again in January of 2023.
- 2016 Electric Rate Study