Manager Connection: Cost of Power Increases

General Manager Syd Briggs

Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric (SWCE) legacy members will notice the Wholesale Market Adjustment (WMA) is increasing on their statement next month.

Steele-Waseca SMEC (Southern Minnesota Energy Cooperative) members (former Alliant Energy customers) will notice an increase to the monthly service charge and/or electric rate on their statement next month.

As most of our members know, Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric passes increases in the cost of power on to our members through the Wholesale Market Adjustment (WMA) on our legacy members and the Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) for our SMEC members who joined the co-op on July 31, 2015, following the closing sale of the former Alliant Energy service territory.

In 2024, our cost of power is expected to increase about 2.2%. Some of you may remember we were expecting an increase last year of about 7%, so this year should be better.

Since the cost of power is our largest expense, it is important we stay current with passing the cost on to our members; if we delay passing the cost on for several years, we end up with large increases in a later year rather than several small (hopefully) increases over several years.

In addition, the board agrees with management that we should be able to pass on less than the full expected increase due to the timing of the increases in the market, and some expected increases in sales of energy with our members that could help offset some of the cost.

With the current average usage of our residential class, their increase should average around 1.6% or about $2.46 per month, and the average increase in the whole system should be around 2%. We also have a strategic plan over the next five years to merge the legacy and SMEC rates where we can have just one set of rates system wide, and only one WMA or PCA.
Your Steele-Waseca board of directors and employees have been working very hard year after year to minimize expenses without sacrificing service, and the results have been excellent. Our expenses, other than the cost of power, have grown very little and stayed consistent with growth in energy sales.

In review, the projected percentage increase is for the average member system wide. The increase each of you experience will be determined on whether your usage is over or under the average.

It is important for our rates to collect as much of the actual costs as is applicable to each class of service. Most of our cost of service is collected in the energy charge, and we try to lessen that with a reasonable customer charge with as much balance as possible.

Steele-Waseca will continue to work hard to provide the best service and realize cost savings whenever possible. We also have an excellent section on our website,, entitled, “REBATES/PROGRAMS,” that provide many ideas and links about efficiency and conservation.

The rate adjustments are not large ones, and it will take effect on the bill you receive in February. Please feel free to call any of our customer service representatives if you have a question or need further clarification.