2021 has proven to be a year of new realities for Osage Valley and our members. We continued to navigate COVID-19, weathered an unprecedented winter storm, launched a broadband business, and learned to navigate in the world of supply chain disruptions and rising costs.
The winter storm in February demonstrated the strength and reliability of our power provider by having a diversified energy mix that helped to avoid rolling black outs during the weather event. We also appreciate the role our members played by reducing usage during critical peak times. Having reliable electric service can be life-or-death in the cold temperatures of a Missouri winter. February’s cold snap demonstrated just how real this scenario can be, and we were proud to be able to keep the lights on throughout that weather event.
In June OVEC announced they would be entering into the broadband business. OVEC will construct a fiber optic network that will deliver Gigabit-speed broadband internet access and reliable phone services to homes and businesses throughout our entire service territory. This endeavor represents a huge opportunity for our rural communities to move forward with access to the technology that has powered lives in urban areas for years – but has been woefully absent for our members. Our contract crews are working diligently to construct the network and hope to begin providing service to members within the phase one area in just a few weeks.
Supply chain disruptions are a concern in both the electrical industry and the fiber industry. Our strong relationships with vendors and suppliers have proven to be valuable and we have been able to build up inventory for items that are essential to providing you reliable electric service and bringing you broadband internet.
As prices for many products continue to rise and inflation sets in across the country, Osage Valley will continue to hold rates steady for 2022. We are proud of the fact that we have not had a rate increase since 2018. We are making preparations to move to demand billing. Electric bills have always included energy and demand costs but it has always been bundled together. Now affordable technology will enable us to measure demand and bill separately, giving our members the opportunity to control costs. Electricity continues to be the greatest daily value of any product in our home. Our cooperative business model keeps our costs low through collaborative planning with our partner cooperatives, KAMO Power and Associated Electric Cooperative. Since each organization in our three-tiered cooperative system is not-for-profit, all three have an incentive to keep expenses low and provide credits back to their members on a yearly basis. As a cooperative, our only priority is providing top-notch service to our members, and we’re thrilled to be able to do that for another year while keeping rates stable.