Port Angeles Residents to Pay
by Tom Callis
PORT ANGELES -- Port Angeles residents will pay about $8 more per month for utilities next year.
But how they do that remains to be determined.
The City Council on Tuesday voted 4-3 to delay taking action on proposed electrical-rate increases over concerns that the staff-favored proposal discourages conservation.
Staff had proposed covering a 14 percent Bonneville Power Administration power rate increase by bumping the monthly base rate from $13 to $18.50, with the rest of the utility bill hike coming through the combined sewer overflow, or CSO, fee.
"I think it's regressive and counter-productive to the incentive to increase conservation," said Councilman Brad Collins, who made the motion to delay.
The alternative would to be to place at least some of the rate increase on the consumption rate.
Mayor Dan Di Guilio, Deputy Mayor Don Perry and Councilwoman Brooke Nelson voted against the motion.
Staff and the council members voting no said they supported placing the increase on the base charge because the BPA increase is solely affecting the city's fixed costs, which the charge is meant to cover.
They also said they felt the staff proposal would not substantially affect the ability of customers to lower their costs through conservation.
The council also voted unanimously to maintain garbage rates and increase the CSO wastewater fee by 14.2 percent.
The monthly CSO fee, which pays for the city's $40 million sewage overflow elimination project, will increase from $17.60 to $20.10 for those who use more than 430 cubic feet of water per month and from $15.75 to $18 for those who use less than that amount.
The council opted to keep garbage hauling costs the same for residents whether they recycle or not after staff recommended lowering fees for those who only use garbage bins by $3.85 per month.
Council members noted the move has received little support from the public.
Staff made the proposal because of the higher cost of recycling.
The CSO rate will continue increasing annually until 2015, when it is expected to reach about $26.40 per month.
The rate will expire after another 20 years.
The city expects to change how it bills for electricity in mid-2012.
Rather than billing the same for electricity used during the day and night, the city will have three separate rates for energy consumed during the morning, afternoon and evening.
Larry Dunbar, deputy power systems director, said the new rate structure will likely be implemented in July or August.
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