Jemez Electric Co-Op informing customers of rate hike

Posted at: 03/22/2013 9:23 PM
Updated at: 03/22/2013 10:21 PM
By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Imagine paying 30, 50 or even as much as 70 percent more every month for your electricity.

The Jemez Electric Co-Op is telling some of its 33,000 customers it's going to have to raise their rates. KOB Eyewitness News 4 talked to some worried customers today.

"Our communty will die." says El Rancho resident Jack Shelburn. He's a customer of the Jemez Electric Co-Op and isn't happy about his bill going up.

The problem is this: The Jemez Co-Op is supposed to pay the pueblos for running power lines through tribal lands. But they haven't been paying everyone according to Kenneth Borrego on the co-op board. And now the pueblos want the money they are owed.

"We've been in trespass with these pueblos for a number of years".

The Co-Op says the only way to make the payments is to charge electric customers more. That excuse doesn't work for El Rancho resident Jack Shelburn.

"The Co-Op hasn't been taking care of business. When you let your leases expire for seven years and you don't do anything about it, that's just not running the business like it should".

George Gomez also lives in El Rancho. He's already seen a jump in his rates.

"Last month’s bill go up over $75. My next door neighbor is seeing his bill go up a little over $100."

Co-Op board and district six representative Borrego is hopeful about renegotiating with the pueblos. He doesn't think the rate hikes will be as much as some are saying.

"Everything has to go through the PRC so it's a fair process. The PRC looks at it. They give it their blessing. We can't do anything without the PRC."

The Co-Op board has delayed filing the rate increases with the PRC for now. They hope the pueblos will negotiate a better deal for its customers. They're also wanting to pay the unpaid fees to the pueblos owed over a longer period of time.