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Holy Cross Energy members within Vail’s service area will see a small increase in their electric bills beginning this month which represents a one percent increase in the utility’s franchise fee to be collected by the Town of Vail.
The franchise fee adjustment, from three percent to four percent, was adopted by the Vail Town Council on May 20, 2019, as a component of the town’s new franchise agreement with the utility.
The increase will be used to accelerate the undergrounding of power lines to support recommendations by the town’s public safety officials. This is because sparks from overhead lines can potentially ignite a wildfire.
The increase will generate approximately $208,000 in 2018 dollars or approximately $4.2 million over the life of the 20-year franchise agreement. The fee will revert to three percent once the undergrounding is complete.
In addition, Holy Cross Energy will continue to provide the town a voluntary Community Enhancement Fund based on one percent of gross charges from within the town limits. The Community Enhancement Fund has been used exclusively to support the cost of undergrounding of electric utility lines in Vail.
In 2018, the Community Enhancement Fund generated approximately $209,000 or enough to underground 730 lineal feet based on current construction costs. Officials estimate an additional 38,000 lineal feet remain to be undergrounded throughout the community.