Bangor Daily News gets it wrong on Vinalhaven electricity rates

The following was sent to the Bangor Daily News, by Fox Islands Wind Neighbors after the recent news report that included data on FIEC rates. Our chart is based on the exact numbers provided to all ratepayers by FIEC. If you think the wind turbines are saving you money, check the numbers: the numbers don’t lie.

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“As neighbors fighting the wind turbine noise on Vinalhaven, we have paid close attention and tried to understand the ways in which ratepayers on the island are being misled about the trend in rates upward.

Often, media reports on the Vinalhaven situation — and wind power in Maine as a general matter — fail to get to the underlying economic / financial data. This is a difficult analysis, I know from experience, but it appears to us that you simply took the Vinalhaven electric utility’s word on the matter of the 5 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s a number, by the way, that taken as a single data point would be impressive to the folks who are lending FIEC the money, but it is not indicative of the rates for the year, and itself is not even accurate (the actual January energy rate was 5.7₵/kwh – closer to 6₵ than the 5₵ stated).

In the article you also say: “Generally, the price for customers is 10 to 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, Farrington said.” That’s certainly better than saying we all paid 5₵/kwh, but the real numbers say even the 11₵/kwh is inaccurate: the actual average energy rate for the last 12 months was 11.5₵/kwh, and for the 2013 year was 11.8₵/kwh, both more than the 11₵/kwh you quote Mr. Farrington as saying.

Because the electric utility has been fairly cagey about what it is charging ratepayers, I would be suspicious about the statement you make “The cooperative was able to sell electricity to ISO for 14 cents per kilowatt-hour during the past winter”. I would be curious if you actually saw the purchase agreement or evidence where ISO/NE paid 14 cents per kilowatt hour for the winter.
This is very tough information for citizens to ferret out.

Still, from our point of view, where there is smoke there is fire and with the Vinalhaven electric utility there is plenty of smoke. We hope you can reassure us that BDN reviewed every data point from its original source — not just one data point — or can explain why.

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