Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Effective with bills mailed on or after April 1, 2023, Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative will increase its basic monthly cost-of-service charge across most consumer classes. The residential cost-of-service charge will increase by $15, from $30 to $45. The delivery charges (kWh), associated with the amount of electricity you use, will remain unchanged for all rate classes except Large Power. Our residential rate (single phase) will remain $.10104 per kWh. Energy efficiency and conservation can help you lower this portion of your electric bill.
Including the COS increase, this equates to about a 10% total increase on an average residential bill.
More information about all of our rates can be found on our Rates page.
Answers to some frequent questions about our rates appear below. Click a question to read its answer. Click the Expand All button to access all of the answers at one time.
Our residential rate (single phase) is $.10104 per kWh. This is not changing on April 1. Our last residential rate increase was in April 2008. Energy efficiency and conservation can help you lower this portion of your electric bill.
This is a fixed charge that covers a portion of the expenses the co-op incurs to make sure you have electricity available at any given time. The tangibles the cost-of-service charge covers are trimming and clearing rights-of-way, trucks and equipment, poles, meters and wires, computer systems, and software. Whether you use any electricity or not, those tangibles have to be in place and ready when you flip the switch.
Another way to think of service availability is like insurance. If a storm causes damage, the cooperative does not bill you, the members, for system repairs. The cost-of-service charge ensures that you have service no matter how much or how little energy you purchase.
Northwestern REC is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by you, the members, and governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership. Your cooperative is accountable to consumer-members, not outside investors, and works hard to provide reliable power and quality customer service at the lowest possible cost. Your cooperative works to control costs, but inflationary pressures have raised the costs of wholesale power and delivering that power to our members beyond what we can control.
It might be helpful to note that the last time Northwestern REC had any increase in the kWh delivery charge was in April 2008, and the last cost-of-service increase was in January 2018. Before any decisions are made, the co-op performs an extensive Cost of Service Study. Our last study was completed in February 2023. Your board of directors and co-op staff examined every option before approving the April 1, 2023 cost-of-service increase.
Electric cooperatives have a board of directors elected by you, the members, that establishes rates. Although we choose to follow the Public Utility Commission (PUC) guidelines, we are not regulated by them. As a not-for-profit, self-help organization, we do not have rate caps.
Northwestern REC provides service to you, the members, at cost and remains not-for-profit. By increasing the accessibility charge by $15, the board of directors believes there is a better balance for providing service to you at cost. Any margins left at the end of the year are fairly distributed back to you in the form of capital credits. The amount of electricity you use throughout the year determines the size of your capital credit check. At the end of 2022, Northwestern REC returned over $675,797 to the members.
We're always looking for ways to manage costs, which may include volume purchasing, energy efficiency programs, and the implementation of new technologies. We also remain committed to providing reliable service to our members. Doing so requires that system maintenance programs, such as right-of-way clearing and pole inspection, be continued and investments be made to train our employees, replace aging equipment, and rebuild and upgrade our electric distribution system.
As a matter of fact, Northwestern REC will be applying 100% of its deferred revenue fund to help lessen the impact of this increase on the members. Our generation and transmission cooperative, Allegheny, will be apply 50% of its rainy day fund.
We have always specified certain costs in our basic monthly charge. Line density also makes a difference. Where private power companies can spread maintenance costs across an average of 35 consumers per mile of line, co-ops – because of the territory they serve – average just eight members per mile of line. So, comparable maintenance expenses for a mile of line are spread over fewer consumers.
On average, even with the $15 cost-of-service increase, our rates will remain 27.6% lower than the local investor-owned utilities.
Northwestern REC offers a number of ways to help you manage your power bill. Some of those services include automatic payment options, budget billing, energy audits, and energy efficiency programs. For more information on improving the energy efficiency of your home or business, check out the Together We Save menu, or our Energy Efficiency page. You can also contact our member services department toll-free at 800-352-0014.
Some general energy savings tips include:
- Reduce your water heater temp from 140 degrees to 120 – the recommended setting according to the U.S. Department of Energy – to save about $2 per month.>
- Use cold water for laundry. The average home does 3-5 loads per week. Switching to cold water could save $6 to $13.75 per month.
- Don’t leave your Keurig coffee maker on all day. Doing so would cost almost $9 per month.
Ensuring your future electric needs and protecting our precious natural resources are two things we take very seriously. We are proud to be part owners of the William F. Matson Generating Station at Lake Raystown, the first hydroelectric project in Pennsylvania to be certified by the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, a non-profit organization that helps ensure environmentally responsible hydro power production.
We have supported 73 renewable projects so far. They include 3 windmill projects, 69 solar (photovoltaic) projects, and one methane digester. In an effort to promote energy conservation, we offer free energy audits, as well as free 24/7 electric water heater service and a free electric water heater when needed.
Northwestern REC is a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which participates in the Ag Energy Working Group, a coalition of 400 organizations focused on generating 25% of our nation’s energy from renewable, homegrown resources by 2025. NRECA also works to develop renewable energy partnerships with the federal government.