Soon Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives will issue a survey with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) that will provide valuable insights into the preferences co-op members have around three pricing options: critical peak pricing, peak time rebates and pre-pay.
In a changing utility landscape, many electric co-ops are looking to understand emerging member-consumer interests in the products and services they want their cooperatives to provide, including pricing options.
Member choices regarding pricing offerings have direct impacts on utility loads and capital planning needs when members’ usage changes as a result of participation in these programs.
Connexus Energy is one of the member-owner cooperatives participating in the survey. Raquel Berg, the co-op’s manager of sales and marketing, said they are considering offering different pricing models and payment options to their members. She said the research on customer pricing options from other areas of the country is not truly representative of their membership.
“Generally the Midwest regions outlined in these surveys do not include the northern states like Minnesota. Participating in this survey will give us a more accurate representation of what our actual members think about pricing models and payment options,” Berg said.
Critical peak pricing is when utilities anticipate high wholesale market prices, call critical events during a specified time period and raise the price for electricity during these times substantially. A peak time rebate option essentially pays member-consumers to reduce their electricity usage during peak times. Pre-pay allows member-consumers to pre-pay for electricity and as they use electricity each day, their balance reflects their usage.
The survey will be issued by mail to approximately 1,500 co-op members in Great River Energy’s member-owners’ service areas early this summer and be completed this fall.
Research around member-consumer preferences is a key component of grid modernization as Great River Energy and its member-owners work to ensure continued business success through industry changes and beyond.