PEC to reduce residential power rates in April

Pedernales Electric Cooperative, or PEC, will reduce home electricity rates beginning April 1.

The rate decrease could reduce average bills by $11 each month, compared to similar bills in April 2015, said PEC CEO John Hewa. Lower rates are because of PEC’s reduced costs for power delivery.

PEC relays electric power to more than 250,000 Central Texas customers, including residents in Cedar Park and Leander. Its seven districts cover 8,100 square miles spanning from Lampasas to Bulverde and Marble Falls to Johnson City, where its headquarters is located.

“Today’s rates put the Co-op’s members in a good position,” Hewa said in a March 22 news release.

PEC is planning new rate options that will be available as of June 1. Cooperative members will receive more information in April, according to the release.

Ingmar Sterzing, PEC vice president of power supply and energy services, said the cooperative also plans future reductions to power rates.

“[We] look forward to offering more options to [members] this fall,” Sterzing said.

In December 2014 the cooperative lowered monthly delivery charges. The monthly charges dropped from $31.12 to $27.12 for customers who use 1,000 or more KWH of power, and from $40.95 to $34.58 for customers who use 1,275 or more KWH of power. PEC also lowered rates in May and December 2015.

Franchise fee change

PEC announced March 30 that customer bills will show franchise fees as separate items starting May 1.

For example, a Cedar Park customer would see a new specific line item in a bill. The item will be labeled as the customer’s portion of a franchise fee that PEC pays to the city of Cedar Park.

The cooperative pays franchise fees to 44 cities, including Austin, Cedar Park, Leander and Liberty Hill. In return, cities grant PEC the right to use city streets and rights-of-way for electric service. PEC usually pays franchise fees to a city based on a percentage of revenue from electricity sales in that city, according to a March 30 news release.

In 2015, PEC paid $7.2 million in franchise fees, according to the news release. The cooperative passes franchise fees along to customers, but has not previously separated the franchise fees on customer bills.

“These funds are an important part of city budgets and our members’ communities,” Don Ballard, PEC vice president of legal services, said in the news release. “With this move, the cooperative ensures that members with meters within a franchise municipality are helping to fairly contribute to the costs incurred for PEC's operation through their franchise fee contribution.”

In October the PEC Board of Directors voted to change the cooperative's franchise fee policy. Before the change, all PEC members shared in the total franchise fee cost among all cities. After the change, PEC passes along city franchise fee costs only to customers in that specific city.