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What is 'Service Availibility?'

When you look in the “Current Bill Information” section of your electric bill, you may notice a line item reading “Service Availability.” That charge is nothing new, and has been there since the early 1980s.

“The ‘fixed’ or basic charge (called the service availability charge) is a flat fee designed to recover a portion of the cost of delivering electric energy to all members,” Member Services Manager Steve Moore said. “The service availability charge is reflective of the investment in poles, wires, transformers and equipment that it takes to provide our members with electric service.”

Moore said the charge also supports fleet, facility and customer service functions such as line maintenance, right-of-way clearing and general administrative responsibilities, and is similar to service or facility charges that other cooperatives and utilities charge.

Regardless of how often you flip the light switch or TV, these costs are part of the bill you pay so electricity is available to you whenever you want it.

“If one member uses only one kWh of electricity, and another member uses 100 kWh, West Central still incurs about the same cost to build the line, maintain the distribution system and deliver electricity to both members,” Moore said. “This is why the monthly service availability charge is important -- to recover a portion of the cost of delivering electricity to all members and help maintain the financial health of your coopertive.”

In an effort to make sure the service availability charge is both reasonable and adequate, WCE’s board of directors conducts detailed studies of the fixed costs and then makes their final decision based on the results of their analysis.

The recent change made in the residential service availablity charge will take effect on April 1.

The current service availability charge is $25 per billing cycle. With the increase, members will pay $1.22 per day, which amounts to $36.60 per 30 days. This adjustment will increase annual cooperative revenues by 8.5 percent.


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