Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc,Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc. (VEC) announced today that the Vermont Public Service Board (VPSB) has approved VEC’s revised request for a 2.13 percent rate increase to go into effect January 1, 2011. In November, the Co-op filed a request for a 2.71 percent rate increase, but agreed with the Department of Public Service (DPS) to a rate settlement of a reduced amount.The increase is primarily attributed to rising costs for transmission services which have impacted electric utilities throughout the region. Like all New England electric utilities, Vermont Electric Cooperative is required to share in the costs associated with regional transmission reliability projects to upgrade the aging New England electric grid, and to meet stricter federal reliability requirements. Another factor contributing to the request for a rate increase includes upgrades to VEC’s distribution system.‘While we acknowledge that any increase may be difficult for our members, this increase is necessary for the Co-op to continue to invest in our distribution system and to pay our share of the regional transmission costs,’ said Dave Hallquist, CEO. ‘While most other utilities are currently filing for significantly higher rate increases ranging from 3.1 to 30.76 percent, VEC, for the second year in a row has been able to keep those increases to a minimum,’ added Hallquist.Vermont Electric Cooperative currently rates highly for operating efficiently, ranking within the top four of Vermont’s twenty utilities for the number of consumers served per employee, despite having one of the most rural electrical systems in the state. System reliability measures have improved dramatically over the past three years with significant reductions in the frequency and duration of outages. Additionally, Vermont Electric Cooperative has met or exceeded customer service standards set by the VPSB such as how quickly member calls are answered, billing accuracy and system reliability.Under the proposed rate tariff, the monthly bill for an average residential member using 500 kilowatt hours per month will increase by $1.96, from $91.72 to $93.68.