Opinion | Letter: What is Mountain Parks Electric hiding?
Three years ago, I urged the Board and General Manager of Mountain Parks Electric (MPE) to hire a qualified consultant to perform a cost-of-service study to assure fair rate design for all customers. So, after investigating their recent legal notice about an upcoming rate increase, I was encouraged that it appeared they had finally done just that! And as an interested member and retired engineering manager, I requested a copy of the final report on their cost of service study. I expected they would be proud to share their good work with all member/owners. Was I ever wrong – they chose instead to declare that report to be “confidential and proprietary.” Do they have things to hide from all of us ratepayers? I suspect it is their decision to continue to have most customers subsidize a couple of special rate classes and not to allocate margins fairly. And maybe they were unable to furnish a full year of load data from their new smart meters for use in allocation of demand/capacity costs.
Now I see in a couple of local news articles that MPE is defending their modest rate increase in 2019 claiming they are doing everything possible to control costs. And yet they continue to pursue construction of a fiber optic backbone communication system that is only needed to provide the middle mile for broadband internet service. Remember that as an electric utility monopoly, they will force all electric customers to pay for this project starting a year or two after that multimillion-dollar boondoggle is completed, whether we obtain internet service from their system or not.
I support modest annual rate increases as needed to keep employee wages and benefits competitive with the labor market. But I think it should be illegal for a monopoly utility provider to charge all customers for a subsidized venture that is not needed to provide electric service in a cost effective and reliable manner.
As I recently emailed to the GM and Board of MPE: “Too bad your seven cooperative principles do not include anything about being completely open and honest, and treating every member fairly (to pay only their fair share of costs required to provide electric service). I used to think very highly of the cooperative way for a monopoly electric utility provider, but I now feel you have corrupted the foundation of that business model. If possible I would choose to have Xcel Energy provide my electric service rather than Mountain Parks Electric.”
Les Shankland, Grand County
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