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Unbundled Bills Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Jo-Carroll Energy redesigning the rates for electric and natural gas accounts?

This change takes your cooperative toward a more cost-based approach, and provides members more information and improved transparency about energy costs. Ultimately, it is a fairer and more equitable to all members. This design also allows members to reduce their energy use without impacting the revenue the cooperative needs to operate efficiently, make needed system improvements and maintenance to keep our systems safe and reliable.

An unbundled rate structure more clearly identifies the specific cost components of delivering energy to our members. Those components include generation, transmission and distribution. Currently, some line items are made up of a handful of detailed expenses, or are “bundled” into line items such as “facility charge or “cost per kWh”.

An unbundled bill breaks these line items into their defined parts. We think this new system provides transparency as well as a better understanding of those costs that are a direct pass-through the providers who produce and supply the energy and costs your cooperative incurs to delivery, or distribute, that energy to you.

Our challenge is to ensure that quality continues, focusing on providing the best possible service while reducing long-term costs per member without impacting reliability, quality of service or safety. 

The new rate structure gives members a more transparent comparison of Jo-Carroll Energy’s rates to those of investor owned utilities.  It is a truer apples-to-apples comparison.  You can now see which charges are fixed and which are a direct pass-through from Jo-Carroll Energy’s energy providers.  Whether we move a single kWh or 1,000 over the lines, we still have expenses to keep the facilities in place to carry that energy when it is needed.

How much is the minimum monthly charge? Why is it increasing?

The minimum monthly charge is the total of the facility charge and the member service charge. For single phase electric service this is $33. Some of the costs covered by the monthly charges were previously recouped in the per kWh charge.

How does unbundling my bill benefit me?

The new unbundled bill design will give you a more information and a better understanding of each of the items on the bill. We think it will show more clearly how your energy dollars are spent. Each member will be able to see how much of their total bill is attributed to the actual purchase of electricity and/or natural gas and how much is related to delivering the energy to the meter.

By separating the cost of energy from the cost of maintaining the lines and pipes we are able to not only provide more information to you but also account for costs appropriately.

When will I see the changes in rates effect my bill?

The new rates go into effect on your use in April 2015, and will be reflected on the unbundled bill you receive in May 2015.

Will my billing due date change in May?

No. All billing schedules will remain the same.

Is this rate restructure a rate increase?

Although the changes were designed to be revenue neutral to the cooperative as a whole, there is no one answer how this will affect an individual member’s total bill. On an annual basis, if you use a smaller amount of energy, that may mean an increase in your total bill while members with larger use may actually see a decrease in their total bill. The impact can fluctuate from month to month.

Am I able to request a change in my current rate class?

The type of service you require determines your rate class. If you believe that your rate class does not accurately represent the type of service you are receiving, please contact our Operations Department at 800-858-5522.  You can view the 2015 Rates here.

What are the requirements for going on the electric heat rate?

The electric heat rate will be available to single phase service accounts that meet additional requirements:

  • Electric heat shall be the primary source of heating in the residence.
  • The member shall have permanently installed residential electric heating equipment of 5,000 watts or more or a geothermal system.
  • The member shall have at least two major electric appliances in use—other than the electric heat. Major appliances include an electric range, built-in electric range and oven, electric water heater and electric clothes dryer.
  • Fifty percent or more of the electrical use is for residential purposes.

Jo-Carroll Energy reserves the right to inspect the member’s service to determine that all of the requirements are met.

Why am I being charged an energy charge and a generation charge on my electric bill?

The energy charge consists of the kilowatt hours of energy used by a member. The generation charge is the kilowatts of capacity required to meet demand requirements. Based on a member’s kWh use, it can be seen as the long-term investment for the steel-in-the-ground facilities of the power supplier.

What is member service charge?

The member service charge is a flat fee that covers administrative costs of managing members’ accounts, such as billing, postage, facilities, software systems and personnel.

What is the facility charge?

The facility charge covers most of the costs incurred for the systems that carry electricity or natural gas. Some of the costs covered by the monthly charges were previously recouped in the per kWh charge.

What are the fixed costs?

These costs include the meters, poles, wires transformers and substations.

How does Jo-Carroll Energy’s facility charge compare to other cooperatives?

Overall, Jo-Carroll Energy’s facility charge is comparable to other cooperatives in Illinois. The current average is approximately $33, with a high of $56 and a low of $13.25.

I have multiple accounts with different rates.  Why am I charged a different delivery charge for each of my accounts?

Different service types require different sized transformers, conductors and other equipment. The costs associated with the different equipment are covered only by members who have these accounts. This is the most equitable and fair way to allocate costs across all members.

I live in District 10.  Why is my delivery charge different from members in other districts?

District 10 includes the former Farmers Mutual Electric Company service territory. The delivery charge will be phased in for those of you who became Jo-Carroll Energy members at the time of the merger with Farmers Mutual. The new rate structure sets your delivery charge at $0.0200 per kWh and will become the same as the rest of the service territory in May 2016.

If the rate structure was designed to accurately cover the cooperative’s costs, why are we still being charged a Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)?

The rates were developed based on historic data. The PCA is determined by how much the monthly power cost per kWh is above or below the anticipated power cost. The PCA can go up or down or remain the same.

We’ve been told that generation and transmission charges account for two-thirds of the cost of power, yet on my bill, my costs do not equate to this ratio.  Why is this?

The ratio of two-thirds is based on the entire Jo-Carroll Energy system and is calculated when comparing the power costs to the total overall expenses. Any one member will come up with a different ratio when looking at their bill. If you have lower energy use, more of your bill would be attributed to the two monthly fixed charges (the facility charge and the member service charge). In the case of an account with zero consumption for a month, there would be no generation or transmission charges and the bill would be 100 percent delivery costs.

What can I do to lower my monthly energy costs?

There are many steps members can take to lower their monthly energy costs.  With the helpful tools and resources Jo-Carroll Energy offers, using energy wisely is easier than you think. We can work together to use energy efficiently. You can find energy saving information on our website and at TogetherWeSave.com.

Jo-Carroll Energy offers members a free, walk-through home energy assessment as well as full energy audits for a reasonable fee. For more information about these programs, contact our energy advisor John Scott at 800-858-5522, ext. 1339.

I understand that many of the costs for energy are passed through from generation and transmission companies.  But, what can I do as a member of Jo-Carroll Energy to help lower these costs for all members?

Energy costs are calculated by power providers based on peak use.  Peaks are refer to the time of day when the most energy is used.  During the summer, this can occur between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.  During the winter the peak may occur in the colder, evening hours.  Performing certain chores during the evenings or on weekends can help reduce the cooperative’s overall peak consumption and overall costs.  By changing your home’s energy habits, you can help reduce the cooperative’s energy bill.

How can I get involved at the political level to prevent energy costs from rising?

You can talk to your state and federal government officials about legislation affecting energy cooperatives at home and across the nation.  Visit www.action.coop for updates on current legislation and learn how to make your voice heard.  

Does Jo-Carroll Energy offer any programs to make paying my bill easier?

Jo-Carroll Energy offers various bill payment programs including budget billing and levelized billing. A budget billing plan allows you to pay the same amount each month, based on your previous 12 months of service. Levelized billing uses a “rolling average”. While the amount due will vary from month to month, this plan can help take the shock out of your energy bill during extremely cold or hot weather.

Will I be able to continue to participate in levelized and/or budget billing after these changes are in effect?

Yes. We continue to offer both of these programs. Visit our the Account Management page or the MyAccount member service portal for more information.

Will my Sand Prairie Wireless bill be affected by these changes?

The charges on Sand Prairie Wireless bills are not affected by these changes; however your bill will have a new look.

I am having trouble reading my new billing statement.  Can I speak to someone about my current bill?

We’ve created a special page on our website on how to read your bill. Please visit the Understanding Your Bill page or call us at 800-858-5522 if you have questions.

I see that the electric rates are on a declining block for members who use more than 1,500 kWh/month. Was I over-billed in the past with the inclining block rate?

The cooperative was not overcharging the members before this change—we were just collecting the capacity costs over more kilowatt hours. Jo-Carroll energy implemented an inclining block rate in recent years in order to incentivize members to take steps to reduce their monthly bills via energy efficiency measures. We think this sent the right message to our members as many of you have taken steps to reduce your energy consumption. However, the inclining block rate ran counter to the cooperative recovering very real and increasing capacity costs passed along to us by our energy providers. We have made the change at this time in order to recover most of the capacity costs the cooperative incurs in the first 1,500 kilowatt hours per month. While this is a change from past practices, it was fairer to all members to recover the capacity costs by this method.

DEFINITIONS

Kilowatt Hour (kWh): The amount of electricity required to power ten, 100W light bulbs for one hour.

Therm: The amount of energy need to power a 100,000 BTU furnace for one hour.  The therm is calculated by multiplying the volume of natural gas (ccf) you use by a therm factor. 

Energy Charge: The cost to produce your energy.  A per kWh or therm charge for the energy used during the service period and is a pass through charge from Jo-Carroll Energy’s energy suppliers.

Generation Charge: Based on your kWh use, this cost covers the physical infrastructure needed to produce energy from Jo-Carroll Energy’s energy suppliers. 

Transmission Charge: A per kWh charge which covers the cost to transmit energy from the generation facilities to Jo-Carroll Energy distribution substations.  This is a direct pass through from transmission suppliers.

Power Cost Adjustment (PCA): A monthly adjustment on a per-kWh basis that fluctuates depending on the total cost each month from our generation suppliers.  The PCA is determined by how much the monthly power cost per kWh is above or below the base power cost.

Facility Charge: The basic cost to provide energy.  It covers expenses such as power lines, pipelines, trucks, labor and other expenses the Cooperative incurs ensuring energy is available when you need it, no matter how much energy is sold. 

Member Service Charge: A flat service fee covering administrative costs including billing, postage, facilities, software systems and other overheads.

Delivery Charge: A per kWh or therm charge that covers the costs of delivering energy to you home and maintaining the equipment that carries the electricity and/or natural gas.  This charge covers the rest of the fixed costs not recovered through the facility charge, and stays with your cooperative.

Declining Block: A structure where the member pays less for energy as use increases beyond a fixed kilowatt-hour amount during a specific billing period.

Demand:  The amount of electricity drawn from an electric system at a given time, measured in kilowatts.

Cost-of-service study: An analysis that determines how much it costs a utility to service various classes of consumers; provides the basis for evaluating different discount and incentive programs and results in t

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