Most St. Croix Electric Cooperative residential consumers will see a reduction in their bills dated November-April (October-March use) for several reasons:
- A lower rate. Your Co-op’s winter rate is 9.8 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to 11.2 cents per kWh for electricity used May 1 through Sept. 30 (June through October bills). The wholesale cost of power purchased through Dairyland Power, our generation and transmission cooperative, is lower in these months.
- No sales tax. Electricity and natural gas sold for residential use during the months of November through April is nontaxable. (Effective Nov. 1, 1979) Sales tax is applied to electricity sold for residential use the other six months of the year and year-round for other use.
- Decreased usage. Cold winter temperatures increase demand for heat, but members have multiple sources for heat, including electric, natural gas, propane and wood stoves whereas air conditioning units are electric. Also children returning to school and decreased demand on water pumps can affect overall use.
Prices for natural gas and propane fluctuate throughout the season, but SCEC has kept electric rates steady for members since 2010.
Back in 2003 when the average price of gasoline was just $1.83 per gallon the co-op put its split season summer/winter rates into effect in response to changes in the wholesale cost of purchased power.
Until the turn of the century almost all rural utilities in the upper Midwest had their peak demand for power in the winter months due to extensive use of electricity for home heating. In the late 1990s this began to change as more new homes were being built with central air conditioning systems. Soon the peak demand for power wasn’t happening in January but rather in July. SCEC’s power supplier Dairyland Power changed the rates they charged their member cooperatives to give them the summer peak price signal and encouraged their cooperatives to find ways to control or manage the summer peak demand.
As a result of the shift to a higher summer wholesale rate for power, the board in 2003 approved the new seasonal energy rate for members so the retail rates better reflected the actual cost of power, higher in the summer.