President’s & GM’s Message: Reckoning cooperative values with market-based incentive systems in our collective shift away from fossil fuels

Coop Currents Coop News

Rate case, response to net metering issue, new CVFiber column, Coventry update, member cookout Co-op Month: Reckoning individual incentives with cooperative values Steve: October is Co-op Month. When I joined Washington Electric’s Board of Directors and was figuring out my responsibilities, a wise Board member told me, whatever decision we make should be made on the basis of what is …

An appreciation of Stanley and Elaine Fitch, stewards of land and community

Coop Currents Coop News

By Barry Bernstein The lives of Stan and Elaine Fitch, who died together on August 30 in the home in Kent’s Corner where Stanley was born, run parallel with the history of the Co-op. Stanley’s family and Elaine’s family were both among the 150 families that were the first ones hooked up when Governor Aiken flipped the switch and Washington …

WEC to File Request for Rate Increase

Coop Currents Coop News

Multiple factors cause the Co-op to need to raise rates by more than 10 percent By Louis Porter WEC is planning to file a request for a significant rate increase with state regulators this month, due to a decline in production from the Coventry plant as work has taken place on the Casella landfill, very high and volatile electricity prices …

Net Metering’s Effects on Washington Electric Co-op

Coop Currents Coop News

By the Board and General Manager of Washington Electric Co-op As the most expensive form of renewable power in the state, net metering raises the cost of electricity to Vermonters who do not own such systems while it lowers the costs for those who do. The members of Washington Electric Cooperative have a long history of supporting renewable energy.  The …

Co-op Seeks Former Members for Capital Credits Refunds

Coop Currents Coop News

WEC returns $400,000 to membership in 2022 When for-profit utilities collect excess revenue, those profits enrich their shareholders. When cooperative utilities take in more revenue from their members than it costs to run the utility, they return that money to their members. Since 1998, WEC has returned approximately $9.5 million in capital credit refunds to Co-op members. This year, the …

Equity and unintended consequences

Coop Currents Coop News

It’s the poor feeding the rich. Mack Gardner-Morse Today, WEC Treasurer Don Douglas said, net metering is “shifting the cost of running the Co-op from everybody to just the people who don’t have solar or some other form of net metering.” It’s a fundamental issue of fairness raised by regulators, WEC leaders, members, and others. When the PUC requested comments …

“It’s counterproductive:” Displacing green energy and causing rate pressure

Coop Currents Coop News

As rates rise, members lose incentive to switch from fossil fuels to electric As a cooperative electric utility with an environmental mission, WEC exists in a mixed landscape of not-for-profits, for-profits, and state goals and mandates, all working to change Vermonters’ behavior. While all are aiming to reduce emissions and fossil fuel use, “we’re running at cross purposes in getting …

Who pays the cost of poles and wires

Coop Currents Coop News

All members require infrastructure, but cost to maintain it is shifted to ratepayers WEC’s infrastructure costs have risen in recent years. The Co-op has prioritized improving reliability in the face of climate change-related storms and tree damage: that means replacing old poles, installing new poles to shorten long spans of wire, removing “danger trees” that could fall on the lines, …

An attractive partnership

Coop Currents Coop News

Under Vermont’s net metering rules, large utility customers have a financial incentive to partner with solar developers Anyone who’s run a business knows you can’t sell your product for less than you pay for it. Barry Bernstein “Since I left the legislature [in 2017], calculation rules have been drastically altered to create large commercial development of solar power,” said Tony …

The birth of an industry

Coop Currents Coop News

How the renewable energy movement led to the creation of net metering When Vermont’s legislature created the state’s net metering program in 1999, said former Board President Barry Bernstein, WEC was a strong supporter. “The intent of the net metering program was to support and encourage a fledgling industry so they could get their feet on the ground,” he explained. …