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Brunswick Electric announces first rate increase in 10 years, higher fees kick in April 2020

The average residential Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation user bill will increase by about $8 in April 2020. (Port City Daily video screenshot/Courtesy BEMC)
The average residential Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation user bill will increase by about $8 in April 2020. (Port City Daily video screenshot/Courtesy BEMC)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — After a decade of unchanged electric rates, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation has announced a rate change that will go into effect in April of 2020.

For an average residential user, the rate adjustment means paying an estimated $8.64 more on the monthly electric bill.

Related: Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation has not raised its rates in a decade

Monthly base rates will increase by 29%, from $23 to $29.75. Energy user charges will increase by 5%, from $0.0969 per kilowatt hour (kWh) to $.1022 per kWh.

Average Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation members use approximately 1,000 kWh each month. So, by April 1, 2020, the average monthly bill will increase from $136.11 to $144.65.

BEMC decision

After 10 years with a fixed energy use rate of $.09690, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation’s (BEMC) spokesperson said the decision to adjust rates wasn’t taken lightly. The BEMC board voted on the rate adjustments ahead of its annual meeting held last weekend.

“You can’t maintain that forever, we just hated to do it but it had to happen,” Heather Holbrook said Wednesday.

Though the energy use rate has remained constant, BEMC has accommodated for increasing costs internally. The Wholesale Power Coast Adjustment (WPCA) is one method BEMC has employed to balance costs in recent years. “The WPCA has traditionally been an element that has incorporated the fluctuating cost of power the cooperative pays,” Holbrook said.

Because Duke Energy charges BEMC to purchase power, BEMC ultimately opted to accommodate increased charges by passing it onto its members.

“We have seen consistent pressure on costs over the past decade. BEMC has seen a nearly 17 percent increase in the cost of the power we purchase since our last comprehensive rate change,” Josh Winslow, CEO and General Manager of BEMC, said in a press release. “We are announcing these necessary changes well in advance to give our membership time to prepare and adjust their energy usage habits. Changes in our rate structure with our wholesale power supplier will give our members new flexibility and options.”

After the changes take effect, the WPCA will no longer be charged. A new feature on April 2020 bills will be the inclusion of the Coal Ash Management Rider, an itemized charge that has been factored into WPCA rates since May 2018. BEMC is electing to itemize this charge to increase the transparency of its rates, according to the corporation’s rate change announcement. Coal Ash Management Riders fund Duke Energy’s efforts to clean up its 32 coal ash facilities as a result of the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act.

BEMC does not generate power. It purchases power through the statewide North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, a wholesale customer of Duke Energy. Rider costs paid to Duke Energy from BEMC customers are $.00333, which equates to $3.33 on a monthly residential bill.

New time-of-use program

Alongside the rate adjustment announcement, BEMC shared information about its new time-of-use program.

According to Holbrook the program will be live before the time new rate changes kick in. Applications will become available in January 2020, according to BEMC.

The program will encourage users to take advantage of lower-cost energy rates on weekends, overnight, and during non-peak hours. It won’t be for everybody, Holbrook said, but for select users who could see imagine themselves using energy during off-hours, the costs-savings will make a difference.

“The savings are so dramatic,” Holbrook said. “It’s new to offer that kind of option of flexibility.”

Before applying, BEMC encourages users get in touch ahead of time to discuss options. BEMC will announce a breakdown of off-hours, including a kWh savings calculator soon. “It’s great to have a one-on-one to talk about it before people sign up,” Holbrook said.

Read more about BEMC’s rate changes. View the new charges, which will go into effect on April 1, 2020, below: 

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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