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More on power outages

Dear Editor:

Recently Phil Overeynder, Director of Public Works for the city of Aspen, responded to questions regarding the power outages in Aspen on March 14th (letters, March 23). Holy Cross would like to offer some additional information to provide a more complete picture.

Mr. Overeynder’s letter stated Aspen Electric consumers experience an average of 1.4 outages per year at an average of 104 minutes per year. Mr. Overeynder compared Aspen’s outage statistics to “one of the largest utilities within 1,000 miles of Aspen” because Holy Cross Energy’s outage statistics were not readily at hand. Like the city of Aspen, Holy Cross works hard to keep electric power outages to a minimum. Holy Cross consumers experience 1.17 outages per year (five-year average) at 99 minutes per year (five-year average). Holy Cross’s electric system has a greater outage exposure because of 40 percent more overhead power lines than the city of Aspen and also more miles of line per consumer. All utilities experience outages. Many are beyond the utility’s control and related to weather conditions or animals. What is important is how the system is designed and how quickly employees are able to respond, identify the issue and resolve the problem.

Mr. Overeynder’s letter stated that the average Holy Cross electric consumer pays 38.8 percent more for the same amount of electricity than an Aspen Electric consumer. Historically, residential consumers of Aspen Electric pay less than most Holy Cross residential consumers, but Mr. Overeynder did not mention that Holy Cross commercial consumers generally pay less than Aspen Electric commercial consumers. Aspen Electric has a tiered electric rate structure that favors consumers that use 700 kWh or less per month. The “data” cited in Mr. Overeynder’s letter uses 700 kWh as the sample point, thus skewing the survey because of differing rate structures, as Holy Cross’s residential usage average is 1,000 kWh per month.

Mr. Overeynder did not mention that the “data” he used fails to take into account the 3 percent franchise fee that Holy Cross consumers residing within the city of Aspen pay to the city of Aspen or the 1 percent community enhancement fund given to the city of Aspen. Holy Cross also refunds member equity to its consumers each year. Member equity allocations can be as much as 7 percent to 10 percent per year ($11,693,016 in 2008) with 2 percent to 5 percent in cash ($5,368,000 in 2008) with the remainder to be refunded in the future.

In addition, Mr. Overeynder did not mention the new electric rates the city of Aspen put into effect April 1, 2009. This means that generally Aspen Electric residential consumers and Holy Cross residential consumers, using 1,000 kWh per month, will pay about the same amount while Holy Cross commercial consumers will generally pay less than Aspen Electric commercial consumers.

Thank you.

Del Worley

Chief Executive Officer

Holy Cross Energy


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