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Economic and dam related articles

PUD Board Takes Second
Look at Rate Changes

by Roger Kline
The Dalles Chronicle, April 11, 20167

Over the past few months, Northern Wasco County PUD has been working to evaluate the need for a rate increase to assure that revenues are sufficient to cover the cost of doing business.

At an April 4 workshop, the PUD's staff recommended that the board of directors consider a rate increase.

The current proposal would result in about a $7 per month -- 25 cents per day -- increase to the bill of a residential customer using the utility average 1,000 kilowatt hours per month.

Even with these increases, PUD customers are fortunate to have the lowest power rates in the Columbia River Gorge and some of the lowest in the Pacific Northwest and the nation.

Our PUD goal, as always, is to have the most reliable and affordable power possible.

On Monday, April 17, at 6 p.m. the board will take a second look at the rates to see if any changes to the proposal are needed.

The board will meet at the PUD Board Room, 2345 River Road in The Dalles.

We invite the public to come hear more about how this rate recommendation was developed and offer your comments on the process.

Our last independent Cost of Service Analysis (COSA) was done in 2013. Since that time, a number of conditions have emerged that play a role in the need for a rate adjustment:

These proposed rate adjustments will help assure not only that the PUD has enough revenue to cover costs, but also that payment is allocated fairly between the rate classifications based on who incurs the costs.

Over time, rates can become misaligned as a result of changing conditions. Rate adjustments allow us to realign the rates. On average, electrical utilities analyze their rates every three years. In fact, prior to 2013 NWCPUD hadn't completed a COSA or a corresponding residential rate action for 13 years. Cumulatively, the rates have increased less than half of the average U.S. inflationary rate, 0.85 percent vs. 2.01 percent respectively, over that same time period.

Regular analysis helps assure that rates increase in small shifts that make the change easier for customers to absorb and don't get too far out of balance.

I should note here that the needs of our large data customer do not affect this rate proposal, other than to increase revenues received from franchise fees. In this case, power supply costs pass directly from BPA, or any other energy supplier to the customer.

As part of the rate proposal, the PUD plans to draw about $1.25 million from our Rate Stability Fund -- a special reserve fund set aside specifically to buffer the effects of rate increases.

An additional $350,000 will remain in the Rate Stability Fund to help cushion the impact of future rate adjustments.

The PUD anticipates an additional 3 to 4 percent rate increase in 2018 to fully cover utility needs, but could also face added costs such as a BPA Cost Recovery Adjustment.

We hope you will attend our special meeting April 17, learn more about the rate proposal and ask any questions you may have.

At the PUD, we will continue to work to keep our service at the forefront of affordability and reliability in the Pacific Northwest and in the nation.

Related Pages:
PUD Mulls 5% Rate Hike by Neita Cecil, The Dalles Chronicle, 11/18/16

Roger Kline is the general manager for Northern Wasco County PUD.
PUD Board Takes Second Look at Rate Changes
The Dalles Chronicle, April 11, 20167

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