No OPALCO Rate Increase In 2021

Posted November 27, 2020 at 4:30 am by

Community Solar Project Coming to San Juan Island


The OPALCO Board of Direc­tors passed the 2021 Co-op bud­get at their Nov. 24 meet­ing and approved a 0 per­cent rate increase – that’s no rate increase – in con­sid­er­a­tion of the ongo­ing pan­dem­ic and its eco­nom­ic hardships.

The approved bud­get also includes a sec­ond, self-fund­ed com­mu­ni­ty solar project, an aggres­sive Right-of-Way clear­ing for fire pre­ven­tion and a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign to help pre­pare mem­bers for the tran­si­tion to renew­able power.

The board also approved cap­i­tal cred­it dis­tri­b­u­tion checks to peo­ple who were mem­bers in 1995–96.

Staff has delayed hir­ing and cap­i­tal projects and cut as many expens­es as pos­si­ble to get there. Due to the uncer­tain­ties of the year, the board issued a warn­ing that it may require a rate increase lat­er in the year depend­ing on the COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion and weath­er depen­dent kilo­watt-hours sales.

It also means some catch up in the com­ing years to build equi­ty for the next sub­ma­rine replace­ment project in 2030. Read the full bud­get report online at‑1.pdf.

The key projects that are fund­ed in 2021 are all relat­ed to build­ing a healthy and sus­tain­able ener­gy future in the islands. The tran­si­tion to renew­able pow­er is here and that means some major shifts in the region as util­i­ties scram­ble to meet new leg­isla­tive man­dates to get rid of fos­sil fuels.

It fore­tells ris­ing ener­gy costs and poten­tial short­ages as coal and nat­ur­al gas plants are retired. It means more pres­sure on – and com­pe­ti­tion for – our fed­er­al hydro resources to firm up the new solar gen­er­a­tors: so there is pow­er when the sun isn’t shin­ing. It means solar micro­grid projects going up in our island back­yards and a decreased depen­den­cy on main­land pow­er resources – although the region­al grid will always be crit­i­cal to meet the County’s ener­gy needs.

“It’s an excit­ing and chal­leng­ing time,” said Fos­ter Hil­dreth, gen­er­al man­ag­er. “I’m con­fi­dent in the plan the OPALCO team has devel­oped to secure a reli­able and clean pow­er sup­ply for the future. But, our suc­cess depends on the mem­ber­ship stick­ing togeth­er and help­ing each oth­er out: that’s the island way–just like it was in 1937.”

Stay tuned for the full sto­ry and lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage with this big ener­gy tran­si­tion through OPALCO’s Island Way cam­paign in 2021.

Mem­bers will have anoth­er chance to par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­ni­ty solar in late 2021: a solar and ener­gy stor­age micro­grid project on San Juan Island and, like the Decatur project, it will be fund­ed through gov­ern­ment grants and mem­ber investment.

If you’re inter­est­ed in the new project, con­tact And, for those who want to be at the table as OPALCO shapes its ener­gy future, there are three open posi­tions in the 2021 board of direc­tors elec­tion. Learn more at

Orcas Pow­er & Light Coop­er­a­tive is our mem­ber-owned coop­er­a­tive elec­tric util­i­ty, serv­ing more than 11,400 mem­bers on 20 islands in San Juan Coun­ty. OPALCO pro­vides elec­tric­i­ty that is 97 per­cent green­house-gas free and is gen­er­at­ed pre­dom­i­nant­ly by hydro­elec­tric plants. OPALCO was found­ed in 1937. 

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

Categories: Energy, Technology

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0