Action taken by the Tahlequah Public Works Authority Board of Directors at its July 19 board meeting will result in a new customer rate schedule, effective Sept. 1, for all sewer, water and electric customers. The increase of the Service Availability Fee for sewer, water and electric services will be reflected on the customers’ October 2019 bills.
“We are raising customers’ Service Availability Fees due to the increased cost to provide the services by TPWA,” said TPWA General Manager Mike Doublehead. “The base charge Service Availability Fee for TPWA customers has not been adjusted for more than seven years. In addition, recent rate adjustments adopted by the Grand River Dam Authority Board will require TPWA to mirror those adjustments in demand, energy and power cost adjustments in order to adequately recover all of our costs.”
TPWA has purchased wholesale electricity from the Grand River Dam Authority since 1947.
Doublehead, and TPWA trustees and staff, worked with Utility Financial Solutions, a nationally recognized consultant in utility rate design, in studying eight peer cities the size of Tahlequah to come up with the best rate possible for the customer. He said TPWA had also analyzed the rates in these three areas over the past three years.
“The Grand River Dam Authority has provided a tremendous amount of support and training resources to the TPWA board members and staff through investment of workshops, special professional consultants and meetings throughout the past two years to underscore the necessity of understanding and the execution of cost recovery and reinvestment for TPWA and their customers," said Doublehead. "Rate design has many complex components for municipalities and incorporated into our GRDA invoicing and billing matrix. The adjustments to our rate design could not be delayed any longer and our TPWA employees and Board have made every effort to manage and contain costs throughout the years to produce one of the very lowest rate structure in the entire state of Oklahoma.”
TPWA has a very professional and well-managed finance and billing division, said Jerry C. Cook, manager of customer support services for GRDA.
“They have certainly performed their due diligence in their review, projections and board decisions. The trend among many of our communities, as they are establishing and updating their true cost of service and customer charges, is to more accurately realign their customer access charges to reflect more correctly their fixed cost requirements in that component of their total customer electric billing,” said Cook.
Having been fortunate enough to serve on the TPWA Board of Directors in the past, Cook said he can attest to the fact that TPWA has a tremendous legacy of reliable, resilient and affordable electric rates for the citizens of Tahlequah.
“They are recognized around the state of Oklahoma for maintaining some of the lowest municipal electric rates available to residential and commercial customers,” said Cook.
TPWA is one of 17 municipal public power communities powered by GRDA generation.
Doublehead emphasized TPWA is always conscience of the impact of any increase to the customers.
“We carefully looked at the financial impact to our customers, whom we serve, but as our overall costs increase, we must adopt reasonable recovery of those costs to provide best-in-class service and reliability to support our growing community,” he said.