The Pioneer Village Council had a special meeting Saturday morning, where they voted to keep the village’s electric rates down.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, wholesale rates of electricity will see a “dramatic increase” in the near future, according to an email from Pioneer Mayor Ed Kidston.
But, council action on Saturday prevented that from being passed on to village residents, businesses and industries.
“We can take internal action to insulate our customers from the volatile market conditions and this is exactly what this ordinance does” Kidston said in the email. “By passing this (Saturday) we can assure our customers will not be paying more per (kilowatt-hour) than they were in November of 2019 ... We have worked very hard and done a great job getting our community through this nightmare and this is just one more step in this process.”
An ordinance was passed with a 5-0 vote, with councilman Joel Burt absent.
In an interview with The Bryan Times on Monday, Village Administrator Al Fiser said the ordinance gave him sole authority to control the electric rate.
“Right now, the adjustment is created and establish with a formula,” he said. “Courtney (and Associates), our electric consultant, he sends us the adder is what we call it every month. That is what we use to determine rates.”
Fiser now has the ability to adjust the adder as they go through the COVID-19 pandemic.
This authority is given to him through at least December 2021, Fiser said.
“It’s basically going to control our rates ... so we don’t have to go with a higher rate, which we don’t have to,” he said. “We’re still in a situation where we can do it without it being a bother, a detriment to the town.”
This won’t result in lost money, Fiser continued, rather Pioneer’s revenues would just be down.
Already, the revenues Pioneer gets from electric bills are higher than their input costs, he said. The village doesn’t consider it a “profit,” but rather as “future capital.”
“Overall, our system is in pretty good shape,” Fiser said. “We feel we’re treating our residents well.”
With this, the rate will be at the same level it was prior to the pandemic, or at least at the average level it has been for the last year.