What is the Service Availability Charge?
You may have seen a “Service Availability Charge” on your monthly bill. This base charge is the minimum amount required to cover the basic costs of providing electricity to your home or business. It covers ongoing maintenance on the electric system; line workers restoring outages; poles; lines; technological and delivery improvements; maintaining our substations (substations regulate voltage levels from transmission power lines that are then transmitted by distribution lines to individual consumers); the costs of our buildings; vehicle maintenance; property taxes; financing; equipment; software; and staffing to operate the company.
If you are connected to the electric grid and you don’t happen to be using much energy, or any energy, in a given month, we still have to have these things in place in order to serve you and the other members on our system when it’s needed. The cooperative cannot operate proportionally or seasonally.
Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA) made the decision years ago to be transparent about the base costs necessary to run the cooperative, regardless of an individual’s energy consumption. This charge is listed separately and is not built into SDCEA’s energy charges. Your actual energy usage is a separate charge on your bill.
The service availability charge is a more equitable way of recovering our base costs, year-round, throughout our system than having a high energy charge to recover those costs. This is because many of our members don’t buy much energy in some months of the year but the cooperative must still operate and maintain its infrastructure and business to be there when consumers do need electricity.