Co-op: No rate increases expected

For the second straight year, Co-Mo Electric Cooperative will not be raising rates.

Co-Mo’s residential rate will remain 7.75 cents per kilowatt hour.

“We’re happy to be able to keep rates steady for 2010,” said Ken Johnson, Co-Mo’s general manager and CEO. “Part of the reason we’re able to do that is through the investment in technology we’ve made through the years that is helping us be more efficient.”

That technology includes an automated meter reading system that replaced the need for full-time meter readers who had to travel Co-Mo’s vast system each month to allow the cooperative to prepare accurate bills.

“It’s not all that long ago that we had to have our members read their own meters and call it in,” Johnson said. “Now we’re able to have the meters themselves talk to us and tell us how many times the dial has spun. The system has come a long way.”

An added benefit to having this automated meter data is that the cooperative has been able to launch a new service called Power by the Hour, which allows members to monitor and track their daily and hourly electrical use via the Co-Mo website.

In addition to the automated meter reading system, the cooperative has implemented an automated vehicle locating system on all of its trucks. A big benefit of this comes in the realm of dispatching, said Chuck Tuttle, operations manager for the cooperative. The AVL system, coupled with the recently completed GIS field data, allows dispatchers to pull up a map on a computer screen that shows where all Co-Mo crews are, easily see the nearest crew to a problem and dispatch that crew to fix it, Tuttle said.

Technological innovations are continuing, officials said. During the next year, the cooperative will be implementing an outage-management system coupled with an automated phone system that will decrease outage times while increasing the cooperative’s efficiency.

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