Bonneville Announces No Increase
by Alex Bruell
BPA officials say they avoided a rate hike by cutting next year's budget by $66 million.
In good news for Cowlitz PUD ratepayers, the Bonneville Power Administration will not increase its wholesale power rate for fiscal years 2020-2021, the agency announced Thursday, a marked change from its December estimation of a 2.9 percent increase.
PUD Commissioner Dave Quinn credited current PUD general manager Gary Huhta and former GM Steve Kern for their work this year lobbying Bonneville to control its costs alongside other regional utilities.
"It's a great accomplishment for Cowlitz and the utility," Quinn said Thursday. “I have to give Bonneville credit. They talked about tightening their belt, and this shows they've done it. They've taken it seriously."
BPA officials say they avoided a rate hike by cutting next year's budget by $66 million. The wholesale power cost will remain at $35.62 per megawatt-hour, while average transmission rates will increase by 3.6 percent for the two-year rate period starting Oct. 1.
The Cowlitz PUD buys 80 percent to 90 percent of its power from the BPA. So BPA's decision means there will be at least one less source of pressure on the PUD to raise rates to its customers, Quinn said.
However, BPA says it likely will need to adopt a small surcharge -- perhaps up to 1.5 percent -- to make still sure it has enough money to operate for at least 60 days. That's still below the rate of inflation and would continue a downward trend in rate spikes that BPA has announced since 2013. Power rates rose by 9 percent that year, 7.1 percent in 2015, and 5.4 percent in 2017.
BPA will announce in November if it plans to enact that surcharge. The federal power agency sets new rate prices every two years.
PUD Manager Wants Bonneville to Keep Rates Flat by Alex Bruell, The Daily News, 2/7/19
Bonneville Looking at Spending Reductions in Columbia Basin Fish/Wildlife Spending by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 5/15/18
Draft Report on Columbia Basin Fish/Wildlife Costs in 2017 Out for Review; $450.4 Million by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 5/18/18
Wyoming Utility has Lowest Power Rates in the Nation by Associated Press, My Plain View, 7/16/18
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