EWEB set for Vote on Proposed
by Chris McKee
EWEB set for vote on proposed 5% rate increase, other utilities waiting
EUGENE, Ore. - EWEB customers could be paying an extra four to five dollars on average per month for electricity, as the utility will make a decision on whether to pass rate hike from Bonneville Power onto customers this week.
Tuesday, October 3th, 2011, EWEB's Board of Commissioners will vote on a proposed 5% rate increase for all EWEB customers.
According to the utility, the rate increase is being driven mainly by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA.)
Back in July 2011, BPA announced is would raise wholesale electricity rates by about 8%, beginning on October 1st, 2011.
In Lane County, all three of the big local energy companies, EPUD, Springfield Utility Board (SUB,) and EWEB will be impacted by that rate increase, however, EWEB is the first utility to make a move related to the impact.
EWEB is asking for a 5% rate increase for three reasons. First, BPA's price hikes. EWEB says whenever BPA raises or lowers rates, it passes those costs or savings on to the customer. BPA says dam rehabilitation costs, fuel purchases, repairs at the Columbia Nuclear Plant and wildlife mitigation costs are to blame for its own rate increase.
Second, EWEB says it is buying less power from BPA starting Oct. 2011. Typically, EWEB buys power from BPA and resells it on the market to make additional revenue.
Third, EWEB's own dams and wind power generation is not bringing in as big of a profit as usual, because of the recession.
"All utilities, if they're not planning to pass that increase on this fall, they'll have to pass it on in the spring, so everyone's going to feel the pain. We just hope that Bonneville can come back in the next year or two and pass on another decrease to our customers," says Joe Harwood, a spokesman for EWEB.
Between 2005 and 2009, EWEB says it was actually able to decrease its power rates for customers, because of cuts from the BPA. EWEB estimates that on average, with the five percent rate increase proposed, an average house would pay an extra $4.24 per month.
EWEB's Board will vote on the rate increase proposal on Tuesday, Oct. 4Th, 2011 at a public meeting. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Board Room at EWEB's 4th Street Headquarters.
Meanwhile, SUB says it will not raise rates "through the 2011 heating season." But in a recent newsletter, the utility said, "a rate increase can't be forestalled forever."
Over at EPUD, the utility says customers should expect a rate increase sometime in 2012.
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