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Special to the Citizen
More than 600 members attended the annual meeting of Central Florida Electric Cooperative in Chiefland Saturday.
Registration for the meeting began at 8 a.m., and an early bird drawing was held during the intermission of the day’s entertainment, The Rock Bottom Singers. The business meeting began at 10 a.m. with a report from Mike Campbell, CFEC’s general manager.
Campbell talked about improving reliability on CFEC’s distribution system, explaining that this summer’s storm season was particularly bad, leading to more and longer power outages. He also talked about the down economy and the number of businesses that have closed. One of those includes Florida Monthly, the magazine CFEC used to communicate with members. The magazine stopped being published in May. Campbell said CFEC would survive these hard economic times.
Randy Mikell, CFEC Board of Trustees president, talked about the rate change, why it is needed and how it came about.
“Before a rate change can take place, a rate study is conducted by an outside professional consultant, and it showed that a rate change was necessary to keep the cooperative financially sound,” he said.
Mikell said the cooperative cannot risk slipping from sound financial footing. “Operating below margins acceptable to the Rural Utilities Service would put the cooperative into a state of not being able to meet financial obligations, and, at that time, they would have the authority to take over the cooperative, replace or layoff employees and make all future decisions.
“No one wants this cooperative taken over and run by outsiders, and the rate increase is to keep the cooperative solvent so that does not happen,” Mikell said.
The rate increase will go into effect on Nov. 1. For the average residential consumer who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the bill will increase by about 5 percent, which works out to an annual increase of just over 2 percent since the last rate increase. Mikell told the members that CFEC’s management, staff and board of trustees would continue to work for every savings possible without decreasing service and reliability.
Mikell also introduced a new rate available to members based on time-of-use, which may be a good option for members who can reduce usage during peak times. Peak usage for November through March, the winter period, is 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. During the summer, it is 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
All other hours are considered off-peak, and the rate would be around 8 cents. The rate during peak times would be about 32 cents. Enrollment in this option is voluntary; however, a member must stay enrolled for 12 months.
It was also announced at the meeting that Donald Lane, District 5, was re-elected to the Board and officers for the next year will be Randy Mikell, President; Kyle Quincey, Vice President, and Kenneth O’Steen, Secretary/Treasurer. After the business session, door prizes were given away.