BY Sarah smith firstname.lastname@example.org Next month electric rates will go up for Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative members. Average basic charges will rise from $29 to $31 a month. That will result in a net increase of $13.08 per month for residential users and $19.08 a month for off-peak users on average. “Last year we didn’t do a rate increase even though our wholesale power rate went up 7.6 percent,” said Itasca-Mantrap CEO Michael Monsrud. “For 2013 our wholesale power rate went up an additional 4 percent so in two years that’s an 11.6 percent increase. So that’s the biggest part of it. Our costs of everything else that goes on… fuel affects us as well as everybody else with the price of gasoline and diesel fuel.” Customers can avail themselves of energy-saving tips and rebate offers at www.itasca-mantrap.com. Those options are mainly to curtail use. Although the rates are slated to go into effect in April, “we’ve had to put in a power cost adjustment until then to make up for the rates. It’s kind of like an interim rate,” Monsrud said. The interim rate hike, called a power cost adjustment, is 1.11 cents per kilowatt hour. A new load management charge will be added next month, a $2 “load management basic charge, for heat meters,” Monsrud said. “For all who have heat meters that’s a charge,” he said. “The leadership of the cooperative and the board of directors struggle to keep the costs down and keep it as low as we can for our members as well as balancing, on the other hand, keeping our system as reliable as possible and safe as possible and providing electricity whenever somebody turns a switch on. “So that’s the balance.” The company has spent a fair amount on upgrades, including a new substation on Highway 71 and power lines along County Road 18, which also figures into the rate hike.