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Rescinded rate structure changes: A letter from Holy Cross President & CEO Bryan Hannegan

September 28, 2023, 12:07 pm

The following is a letter from Holy Cross Energy President & CEO Bryan Hannegan on why the local rural electric co-op recently rescinded its proposed rate structure change:

Dear Members,

Bryan Hannegan

Since our founding in 1939, Holy Cross Energy (HCE) has provided safe, affordable, reliable, and sustainable electric service to our cooperative members and communities. For much of this history, HCE has provided both the electricity itself and the means of delivering it to you via our electric grid. Our electric rates have reflected the costs of both the electricity and the grid in a single per-kWh energy charge. All the while, HCE has continued to maintain electric rates that are among the lowest in Colorado, and thanks to our recent investments in new wind and solar projects, HCE is on track to provide greater than 90% clean electricity to our members beginning in early 2024.

Now, as we continue our journey to 100% clean energy by the end of this decade, we recognize that the role of HCE is rapidly changing thanks to advances in rooftop solar systems, battery storage, electric vehicles, all-electric buildings, and other emerging clean energy technologies. As the number of these technologies grows, HCE may sell less electricity but will still need to maintain our electric grid to deliver energy to our members regardless of where it comes from.

Earlier this year, the HCE Board of Directors approved a new rate structure that would have allocated costs more accurately across different types of members, increased our financial sustainability as an electric utility, enabled greater adoption of new technologies such as energy storage, electric vehicles, and smart buildings, and kept our rates competitive with other Colorado utilities while raising our overall revenue by just 2% in 2024.

HCE took public comments on the proposed new rate structure for nearly three months, including at a well-attended public meeting with our Board of Directors in Glenwood Springs last May. We heard concerns from low-income HCE members that the demand charge would increase their monthly bills, and we heard concerns from HCE members with rooftop solar systems that the new structure would reduce the value of their investment, one that is currently heavily subsidized by HCE members who don’t have rooftop solar. In addition, we heard from solar installers that the proposed new rate structure would damage their businesses and slow the growth of clean energy, and we also received threats of a lawsuit from the Colorado Solar and Storage Association.

Subsequently, in response to a request by the Colorado Energy Office on behalf of Governor Polis,  the HCE Board voted in May to pause the implementation of the proposed new rate structure, and earlier this week, the Board voted to rescind it altogether. We did so to further enable dialogue and collaboration on an appropriate statewide net metering policy that will meet our needs as an electric utility while also meeting the needs of our members and communities we serve.

We are pleased that the State of Colorado has initiated a more comprehensive and necessary statewide dialogue on the future of net-metering policy in a clean energy future, and we look forward to participating in that dialogue right alongside our friends in the solar industry, consumer advocates, environmental interests, and our fellow electric utilities.

HCE remains committed to leading the responsible transition to a clean energy future in an equitable and inclusive way that can inspire others to act similarly in our community, within our State, and around the world. This means listening to our members and communities when they express concerns, engaging in rational discussion and debate to find common ground, and working together to find solutions that can take us forward on our shared Journey to 100% clean energy. We look forward to working with you on this challenge of a lifetime, and we invite you to join us to help plan our next steps, together. Questions? Email us at rates@holycross.com

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