Message from General Manager & CEO Chris Tackmann
Happy New Year. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season and I wish you the very best in 2023. At the board of directors meeting last month, the directors approved our 2023 work plan and budget. I would like to highlight a few of the key projects.
Construction: We faced many supply chain issues in 2022 and 2023 is not looking much better. In the past, we could order most inventory a month or so in advance and receive it. Now we are lucky if we can get a lot of items within a year of ordering. Along with long delays in shipping, costs have increased by at least 28% as well.
In 2023, major construction will take place in Mauston, Lyndon, Wyeville, Shennington, Kendall, Elroy, Castle Rock, and Bear Bluff areas. There are also many other places that smaller construction projects will take place in Clifton, Buckhorn, Babcock, Ocean Spray, and Whistling Wings. Depending on cost, inventory status, and terrain, some of these areas will be converted from overhead to underground. In 2023, we also plan to start construction on two new substations.
Renewables: Oakdale continues to support renewables with our community solar garden and helping members connect their own member solar projects to our grid. We are also planning on building two of our own solar gardens in the summer of 2023. We had hoped to have this completed in 2022, however, due to supply chain issues, we had to delay. One will be approximately 3.5 MW and the other will be approximately 1.5 MW. As construction gets closer, we will be sharing more details about the project(s).
Electric Rates: Starting this month, we will be completing a Cost of Service and Rate Study with Power Systems Engineering. They will be reviewing all of our rate components and recommending changes, along with creating new rates for us to implement in the future. Unfortunately, we will need to raise our rates this year. Once the study has been completed, we will decide on what the increase will be however, it looks to be between 3.5% and 5%. Look for more information later this spring in the magazine.
Electric Vehicles: Oakdale Electric Cooperative (OEC) continues to watch and learn about electric vehicles. We plan on purchasing an electric truck this summer and installing a few public electric vehicles chargers throughout our territory. We are also looking at creating a special EV rate for our members to use when charging their vehicle at home.
Technology Updates: Later this year, we plan to start the upgrade of our end of life load management system with a newer system that will complement our automated metering system. This upgrade will take a year or two to fully upgrade. There are many benefits to upgrading our load management system including being able to help implement new control strategies to help with newer rate design. More details will be explained about this as we are able to role out new programs in 2024. We are also continuing to implement new hardware on our distribution lines to help monitor and restore outages and voltage information remotely.
There is much more that OEC plans to do in 2023. Please know that every decision that is made at OEC, is made with the best interests of all members in mind. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please contact us.