Focus on co-op's financial future
Meeting the energy challenges of today
A new year is always a good time to start fresh, to find ways to move forward toward a better future. Typical New Year’s resolutions focus on personal wellbeing, such as losing weight, exercising more or eating healthier food.
As an accountant by trade, I’m fond of focusing on financial wellbeing. I think it’s always important to manage debt, plan and save for expected expenses, and prepare for the future.
I’ve brought that same mindset to my role as CEO of this not-for-profit electric cooperative.
I’ve talked before about how the co-op has been able to take advantage of the historically low interest rates that had been in effect until recently. Locking in favorable rates on millions of dollars in debt was a wise decision, especially now that interest rates are rising. You can see in the graphic that accompanies this article that capital costs – such as interest expense – are something you finance through the rate you pay for electricity.
We have continued to invest in the system that serves you, planning and saving for expected expenses. The maintenance and operations portions of our budget typically amount to about a third of your rate dollar. Think of this as basically everything your local co-op provides for you, such as clear rights-of-way, upgraded poles and wires, safe equipment for the line workers, up-to-date consumer-facing technologies, well-trained and motivated staff in the office and in the field.
We also regularly prepare for the future. You’ll notice in the board minutes reprinted elsewhere in this newsletter that the board approved deferring $2.5 million in revenue. All year-end margin always belongs to you, the consumer-members of this co-op. A deferral simply allows the co-op to better balance out what we expect will be some difficult years ahead. It’s a way to prepare for the future.
In years past, the future has been a little easier to predict. We have enjoyed a good run of relative stability – in weather patterns, operating expenses and wholesale power costs. But as I mentioned last month, things are changing.
As I’ve written about before, operating expenses have been greatly impacted by inflation, labor-market pressures and supply-chain problems.
Also, we have been notified of a pending increase in the wholesale cost of the electricity we ultimately distribute to you. As the graphic shows, cost of power makes up the largest chunk of your rate dollar. Again, no rate change will impact you this winter. As I write this in late November, we’re still discussing how best to handle the spring 2023 adjustment.
The purpose of Crawford Electric always has been to provide our consumer-members with the best possible service at the least possible cost, consistent with sound business practices. My New Year’s resolution for 2023 is to maintain the goodwill of our membership while meeting the challenges of today.
Of course, I should also exercise more and eat healthier.