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Lake Country Power customers weigh in on new rate options

Lake Country Power customers have weighed in on how their bills should compensate for a projected shortfall, and the option favored by the co-op's board received the most votes.

At the co-op's 16th annual membership meeting in Cromwell on Saturday, officials announced the result of a survey by mail of three choices for making up an expected $1.5 million deficit, the utility said in a news release.

Nearly half of the more than 6,500 people who responded to the survey, 3,200 votes, favored the same option as the board's preference: raising the fixed monthly fee from $22.50 to $42 but lowering the rate paid for electricity used. Jack Huhta of Biwabik, the board's president, has said the average customer using between 750 and 800 kilowatt hours wouldn't see any change in their bill under that option.

Least popular, with 856 votes, was the second option, which would raise the fixed fee to $32 per month and still include a slight rate decrease.

Option three would raise the fixed fee to only $27.50 but also increase the rate. It got 2,529 votes.

The vote, which followed a series of informational meetings earlier this spring, is only advisory. The board is expected to make its decision later this month; any rate changes will go into effect in September.

The cooperative serves about 48,500 customers in St. Louis, Carlton, Itasca, Aitkin and Lake counties.

More than 200 members and guests attended Saturday's meeting.