Some residents will see power bills spike this week. Here’s why.

Published 2:59 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The price of power is going up for some residents of Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties. And in fact, the increased power bills will be effective by the time some of you read this. The Virginia State Corporation Commission has agreed to a request from Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC), giving them a one-time rate hike. 

As of Wednesday, June 12, CVEC members will see a bump of roughly 4.54% on their base electric rates. Now for most customers, this will translate to an average increase of $8.48 per month. But the larger your house or business and the bigger your need for power is, the higher your new bill will climb. 

CVEC’s argument is that they had to raise rates in order to cover the cost of what became a very expensive two year period. When asked, company officials pointed to 2022 as the beginning of the problem. That’s when they say the cost of generating power, the cost of materials and taxes, spiked by $12 million. In order to protect members during the pandemic, CVEC officials said, they didn’t get that money back immediately by raising rates then. They also point to changes taking part with other companies as a reason for the hike. Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power have gone through a series of transmission upgrades, as we’ve reported over the last year. But CVEC systems can’t accept the higher voltage generated by those new transmission lines, company officials argue, without making substantial changes of their own. As a result, CVEC is in the process of rebuilding multiple substations and transmission lines across our area. Add that to some already planned internal electric system upgrades made in recent years and you have a significant cost, one the company wants to recoup through charging people more for power. 

CVEC argues increased power bills needed

Email newsletter signup

“Together, these projects have required investment of more than $25 million in the past few years,” CVEC officials said in a statement, talking about the multiple projects being worked on. “CVEC has also experienced a 40% increase in material costs and increase in fuel and contract labor costs since 2018. While the upgrades will strengthen the system, the increased debt for these investments will not be fully recovered under present rates.” 

The CVEC Board of Directors said that’s why they made the decision to file for a streamlined rate case with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. 

“The CVEC management and Board of Directors understand the impact of higher rates on our members’ households,” said CVEC President and CEO Gary Wood. “We have successfully minimized rate increases from 2018 until last fall. Moving forward, we will work to mitigate increasing power costs in the future by using technology to improve system performance and increase reliability, optimizing our workflows to minimize the need for additional personnel, and reducing load at peak times.”