BEC Budget ongoing, members encouraged to particpate

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter

The 2018 budget process for Beartooth Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BEC) has started.
Members are encouraged to attend meetings.
Budget documents are crucial for members to see where their bill payments go.
Members who have questions about the safety, security and methods of distribution can be informed of the process.  
The budget shows major investments like the planned meter replacements.  
After waiting for resolution, BEC may hear this year whether they may receive a $1.1 million return from NorthWestern Energy held in escrow for transmission overcharges. They will also receive additional interest from the Rural Utility Service (RUS) on new Cushion of Credit deposits that are used for debt payments.  
The posted information online includes the budget proposal, recent financial reports, the 2017 budget, risk management reports, the most recent update of the seven-year forecast plan, and links to other related information.
According to BEC, important open meetings are coming up.  At the December 14 risk management meeting Manager Kevin Owens will present his proposed budget to the committee, board and BEC members.  The schedule aims for budget approval at the December board meeting, which has been moved to January 9 to ensure full input and review during the busy holiday season. Members are encouraged to participate.
For nearly all businesses budgeting is an annual planning process.
Ever since the Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. bankruptcy, the new BEC boards have applied risk management and due diligence analysis to new efforts.  
The process: BEC now adds a risk management forecast model and seven-year plan as tools for examining impacts resulting from different assumptions and scenarios.  
Side by side with the annual budget the plan provides hands-on reference for management and a broad picture with longer-term context for the board’s evaluation and oversight.
Budget and forecast incorporated: Once the budget is approved its numbers are incorporated into the forecast plan, effectively adding a year to the reference timeframe and increasing the accuracy of future projections.
While contemplating merger in the past with Lower Valley Energy Cooperative Inc., the risk management committee has run seven scenarios, starting with initial numbers for a standalone BEC. This last favorable forecast presaged the final decision not to merge.
Scenario 7,reflects current anticipated expenses and revenue data. The board added a Scenario 7A that contains the same data but adds a calculation of increased interest income from the RUS Cushion of Credit deposit.  This scenario is the most up to date for current conditions and may be viewed online or at BEC.
Boyd said, “The most recent examination was designed to verify calculations of Debt Service Coverage, a key financial ratio that can affect borrowing interest rates and availability of funding.”
Major budget items are already fixed.  The co-op has fixed price power supply through September 2027.  They will begin full replacement of member meters in 2018.  Management has identified needed plant improvements and their likely cost.  Boyd said, “We have been very conservative with estimates for energy demand growth.”
BEC will create a member survey to help identify the methods members prefer for receiving information. 
Communication to members of the budget process and content as well as website updates and other methods pursuant to bylaw requirements will continue during the budget process period.
The remaining budget schedule is as follows:
Nov. 11-28 – Board feedback and discussion of budget draft.
Dec. 12-14 --  Risk Management and Finance Committee review updates for final budget
December Board meeting (possibly held second week of January) -- presentation of final budget for approval
January, 2018
There will be an updated forecast model with approved budget information.
For more information go to the BEC office in Red Lodge or see: website. (News/Events Member Information)


Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, July 26, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, July 29, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.