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General Manager/CEO Dennis Svanes

I have written many times about the Seven Cooperative Principles. The third co-op principle — Members’ Economic Participation — means that members of 4 Rivers contribute equally to, and democratically control, the financial capital of the cooperative. As a not-for-profit organization, any excess margins are returned to the co-op consumer-members through the capital credits retirement process. These margins are allocated as capital credits each year after our audit concludes.

In December, many of you received a credit on your 4 Rivers bill for the retirement of the capital credits. The co-op’s board of trustees authorized the retirement for “first-in, first-out” — retiring the oldest capital credits first. This year, 4 Rivers retired nearly $734,000 for the membership years of 1992-1994.

Another board responsibility is making sure 4 Rivers’ rates match the co-op’s revenues to costs in an accurate and fair manner based on the costs to serve each rate class. The board of trustees had a cost-of-service study performed to gather information on the cost to serve each rate class based on load and service characteristics. The next step after a cost-of-service study is setting appropriate rates that assign cost responsibility to each class fairly and equitably.

At the Feb. 20 board meeting, the board will consider proposed changes to 4 Rivers’ rate tariffs. If approved, the new rates would be effective April 1, 2023. This change will bring our membership together under a common set of tariffs, instead of calculating two sets of member bills based on the former Lyon-Coffey Electric and Radiant Electric rates.

Rates and tariffs are not exactly exciting topics, but very important to the health of the electric cooperative. The proposed rates are revenue neutral changes for noncommercial (residential) and general service large (large commercial). This means that the cooperative will collect approximately the same amount of money through the year from those rate classes without a revenue increase. In those rate classes, some members will pay more, some will pay less, and some will pay the same. Though the monthly customer charge will increase, the energy charge per kilowatt will decrease for many, though some will see a small increase. These changes will more accurately reflect the cooperative’s cost to serve each rate class, as we align our rates to a single set of tariffs. The objective is, and will always be, to collect revenue fairly and equitably, so we can provide safe, reliable electricity to our members.

If you would like more information about the proposed tariffs, call us at 620-364-2116. You are welcome to attend the rate hearing on Feb. 20 at our Lebo office — located just south of the BETO junction interchange. You are a valued member-owner of the cooperative.

(Printed in 4 Rivers Electric’s February 2023 Kansas Country Living centerspread)