Cooperatives - People Working Together
On behalf of the Board and employees of Mountain View Electric Association, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our members and their families a very merry Christmas and happy new year. As we face the challenges and opportunities of the coming year I urge you to enjoy the special moments that surround you this Holiday Season.
I am pleased to announce the United Nations (UN) declared 2012 the international year of the cooperative. As you may know, a cooperative is an autonomous voluntary association of people who unite to meet common economic, social, and cultural needs through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. The UN is recognizing Cooperatives for contributing to socio-economic development. There are 800 million members of cooperatives throughout the world in 100 countries that provide about 100 million jobs. Of course, co-ops span all industries, including credit unions, dairy operations, health care, housing and utilities.
Overall, cooperatives are more accessible than other types of businesses. “In the United States, the first known cooperative dates back to an insurance cooperative formed by Benjamin Franklin,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Glenn English, who was inducted into the National Cooperative Business Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
“Cooperatives continue today to provide a tremendous service to people throughout the world,” English said. “Cooperatives are a model of self-reliance and an example of people working together to improve their quality of life.”
As a cooperative, MVEA has a special responsibility to support the areas in which our members live and work. What sets us apart from other businesses is our concern for community. We give our members a voice, and we are local-living and working alongside those we serve.
Every October, since the late 60s, in celebration of Cooperative Month we provide an opportunity for members to have their voices heard. We host Lamplighter meetings in 4 regional areas of our service territory: Limon, Calhan, Falcon, and Monument. Falcon was added as a host location in 2005, because of the extraordinary growth in the area. Over 300 MVEA members attended the meetings this year for the opportunity to discuss issues affecting the cooperative. If you would like to participate in one of these meetings next October call either of the MVEA offices and ask to be on the invitation list.
The focus of Lamplighter meetings is to present regional and national issues we are facing as an electric cooperative. This year the Colorado general assembly introduced 596 bills. MVEA through its affiliated statewide organization, Colorado Rural Electric Association, followed 40 that were rural electric issues. For example, we supported Senate Bill 11-45 - Colorado Task Force to Streamline Electric Transmission Line Siting. The objective of this bill was to streamline the process for securing governmental approval for the siting of electric transmission facilities through creation of a task force without infringement on the local control– the bill passed.
We supported the Fair Permit Act, limiting solar permitting feels. This act puts a cap on the cost of government-issued permits needed for installing solar devices. This bill also passed.
We supported the Commodities Metal Theft Task Force creation. Commodity metals are defined as metals containing brass, copper and other valuable materials. We have found an increase in copper theft with the increase in value and ease of resale on open market. The objective of the bill is to stop the opportunity and ease for thieves to sell on open market. This passed and MVEA Director Barry Springer actively participates as a member on the Task Force. One example of the bill we opposed and were successful in stopping this year is on third party member data sharing. We opposed that bill in support of preserving member data privacy.
Members are asked to participate at the Lamplighter meetings and respond to regulations and legislation that affect your rates. The Take Action Network and Keep Electricity Affordable are specific grassroots’ campaigns that engage members in a conversation with elected officials about how we meet climate change goals while keeping electricity reliable and affordable.
I urge you to go to our website, www.mvea.coop, and select the Take Action Network and Keep Electricity Affordable icons. Both links will take you to secure sites where you will have the opportunity to send a message to your congressman, make your voice heard, and stay informed on how we can work together to keep electricity affordable in our communities. Let our Senators and Representatives know that any legislation must be done in a way that protects your monthly budget. In addition to legislative issues that affect the price of electricity, MVEA’s wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State), has announced that the cost of energy will go up next year. At their September meeting, Tri-State’s Board of Directors approved a 4.8% increase in their wholesale power costs. Overall, it will translate into a $2.5 million increase in our expenses. The two key factors behind that decision were an increased load requirement from Tri-State’s 44 member cooperatives and increased regulatory requirements. The increase from Tri-State to MVEA will become effective January 1, 2012. Wholesale energy costs account for approximately 65% of MVEA's annual operating expense budget, therefore any increase in wholesale costs can impact rates you pay. The impact on each rate class will be determined by the Board during a process to review our current rate structure and the impact of the Tri-State increase. Most likely, it will cause an increase for MVEA members. We will keep you informed as to the decisions being made and how that may affect your electricity bill. To learn more about Tri-State visit their website http://www.tristate.org/. As we look to the New Year, we will continue to make our voices heard against regulatory and legislative issues which are not in support of our mission and advocate issues in support of our efforts in providing reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electric service to our members. I am grateful for your support and appreciate your continued efforts in the coming year.
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