Extreme winter weather leads to higher-than-normal electric bills
Spring has arrived, and we are enjoying the greening landscape and warmer temperatures. But the effects of February’s extreme cold weather, which caused a record demand for electricity, are still lingering. That record use, combined with skyrocketing fuel costs for electricity production, means that you are likely seeing higher-than-normal electric bills.
The long stretch of frigid temperatures caused increased electricity usage across much of Arkansas, Texas and the Midwest for about five straight days. The demand for electricity was met for Arkansas’ electric cooperative members with only a small, limited (less than 6,000 members at one time) curtailment, despite the dire situation that other states experienced. On Feb. 14, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), the wholesale power supplier for our co-op and 16 others within the state, asked the state’s electric co-ops to voluntarily limit the use of electric service immediately and through Feb. 17.
Because of the soaring demand for natural gas, prices skyrocketed as supplies grew tight. The unusually high cost of natural gas used to generate electricity was the primary driver behind the higher-than-normal electric bills many members are receiving. Although AECC has a diverse mix of generation supplies to help lower fuel costs, a large portion of its wholesale power generation comes from natural gas. On Feb. 16, natural gas that was priced at $1.98/MMBtu rose to approximately $220/MMBtu. The total additional wholesale generation fuel costs for Arkansas’ electric cooperatives for the month of February were about $93 million above normal.
To help minimize the fuel cost impact, AECC’s board of directors approved a plan to recover these costs on member bills over the next nine months. These costs are part of the fuel adder on members’ electric bills. As a not-for-profit organization, you can rest assured that your local electric cooperative never profits from a members’ added burden. By law, a fuel adder must go directly toward recovering the actual incremental costs of fuel and purchased wholesale energy from AECC.
While we cannot control the weather, we can help you find ways to keep your electricity costs down by making energy-saving improvements to your homes and businesses. It takes working together to make the best use of resources. In addition, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative is always willing to work with members to make payment arrangements. As your local electric cooperative, we do everything in our power to provide safe, reliable electricity and service to you.
IMAGE CAPTION: The Thomas B. Fitzhugh Generating Station operated on fuel oil reserves at the peak of the severe winter temperatures to shield electric cooperative members from skyrocketing natural gas costs.