Clay Electric hikes rates again, fifth increase in less than year

Don Johnson

Clay Electric Cooperative has announced it will be raising rates for the fifth time in less than a year due to increases in the natural gas market.

The higher cost will be reflected in the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) on customers’ power bills. The additional amount each customer pays each month will vary based on how much electricity is used.

Beginning with September billing cycles, customers using the industry household average of 1,000 kilowatts (kWh) of power will pay $139.90, a $5 increase.

The PCA is increasing as a result of higher costs to generate power, making electricity the co-op purchases from its wholesale power provider, Seminole Electric, more expensive. Current and forecast natural gas prices are quadruple what they were in 2020, and roughly triple from 2021, according to Clay Electric.

While prices at the pump are beginning to ease, natural gas is not to be confused with gasoline, which is used to power vehicles. Crude oil is used to manufacture gasoline and diesel. Natural gas is the fuel used to generate most of the electricity in Florida, and it’s a sizable part of the generation mix for Seminole Electric, according to a Clay Electric press release posted on its website.

General Manager/CEO Ricky Davis said the increase in fuel and commodity prices are projected to increase electric generation costs more than $45 million for 2022.

The result is “an unprecedented” rise in rates of five times in less than a year, the press release said.

“As soon as prices to generate power go down, your cooperative will lower the PCA,” Davis said. “We work hard to maintain our costs and provide affordable electricity, but these large fuel increases to generate power make this rate change unavoidable.”

The PCA is a separate line item on each Clay Electric statement, which reflects the increases/decreases in the co-op’s cost of power. The cost of wholesale power is more than 70 percent of Clay’s total expenses. The cooperative said it’s critical all wholesale power costs are recovered in its retail sales.

When the cost of power is greater than the amount included in the base rate, the PCA is a charge. When the cost is less, it’s a credit.

As a not-for-profit cooperative, Clay Electric customers receive power at cost. At the end of each year when it’s determined how much revenue exceeds total expenses, the difference is assigned to customers as Capital Credits based on the amount each customer was billed for electricity during the year.

Clay Electric provides power for most of Clay County.

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Clay Electric increases rates again.Photo courtesy of Clay Electric Cooperative Facebook page.

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Veteran journalist with experience in website and newspaper content as an editor and writer. I have worked as a reporter at newspapers and websites in Florida, California and Arkansas. I am a former executive editor at the Tampa Bay Business Journal and worked for 12 years at The Tampa Tribune as an enterprise editor and business editor. At Patch.com, I produced stories for 24 websites in the Tampa Bay area and also edited content for websites in six states.

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