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Economic and dam related articles

Clallam PUD Electricity
Rates Increase 3.5%

by Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News, July 3, 2014

Lower Granite Dam in SE Washington state impounds the Lower Snake forty miles up beyond the Idaho border. PORT ANGELES -- Clallam County Public Utility District customers will see a 3.5 percent increase in their electricity utility rates on this month's bills.

The increase, which took effect Tuesday, amounts to $3.35 per month for an average PUD residential customer who uses 1,200 kilowatt hours.

Agency officials have said the bump was needed to help offset a 9.5 percent rise in wholesale rates charged by the Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies the PUD's power and represents 45 percent of its total budget.

The increase will be effective on all bills rendered on or after Tuesday and will include electricity use since the prior bill.

The PUD rate increase was budgeted last December and approved unanimously by the three commissioners in May.

"Commissioners spent much time during the public budget hearing process considering when to increase, and by how much to increase, rates," PUD General Manager Doug Nass has said.

"This rate increase is consistent with our strategic objective of maintaining stable rates and financial responsibility to our customers."

In addition to BPA raising its wholesale rates, PUD officials have said the 3.5 percent electricity rate increase was needed to offset rising costs of materials, operations, maintenance and technology.

Officials warned that renewable energy and conservation mandates will lead to more rate increases in the future.

The voter-approved Washington Energy Independence Act, for example, requires that the Clallam County PUD obtain 15 percent of its electricity from wind, solar or other renewable source by 2020.

Hydroelectricity was not considered renewable under the 2006 state initiative that created the Washington Energy Independence Act.

This month's rate increase follows a 3 percent rise in 2013, a 3 percent bump in 2012 and an 8 percent spike in 2010.

"Rate stability is important to us, meaning we try to avoid extreme measures and instead give some certainty to our customers for planning purposes," PUD Commissioner Will Purser has said.

"Rate increases are never popular, but with the rising costs associated with regulatory mandates and BPA increases, there was little option," Commissioner Hugh Haffner added.

"Customers can expect rate increases annually of about 3 to 4 percent because we anticipate future BPA increases are on the horizon."

The PUD provides power to about 30,000 customers in Clallam County.

"We do not take rate increases lightly and do our best to control costs, while maintaining and improving upon the level of service our customers expect," Commissioner Ted Simpson said.

Rob Ollikainen
Clallam PUD Electricity Rates Increase 3.5%
Peninsula Daily News, July 3, 2014

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