PUD Expected to Raise
by Erik Olson
Cowlitz PUD officials said Wednesday night they will raise retail power rates an estimated 5 percent next summer to offset an anticipated increase in wholesale power rates.
At a 2013 budget hearing at the PUD auditorium, utility staffers said they expect the Bonneville Power Administration on Thursday will announce an increase in its wholesale power rates for next fall.
The PUD buys about 90 percent of its power from the BPA, the Pacific Northwest's largest energy marketer. PUD rates typically rise in response to increases in wholesale power costs.
Trent Martin, Cowlitz PUD's chief financial officer, said the PUD expects BPA to announce a 10 percent rate increase. That hike may be adjusted downward after the PUD and other utilities negotiate with the wholesaler, he said.
Incoming PUD Commissioner Kurt Anagnostou, who defeated Mark McCrady in the Tuesday election (see story, Page B1), said after the meeting he was "surprised" at the size the utility's projected rate increase.
Anagnostou, who ran on a platform to keep rates low, said he would investigate ways to try to further offset the BPA rate hike and lessen the blow on PUD ratepayers.
"We have to work toward keeping the rates... as low as possible for the citizens. I will not be in favor of any increases above what's necessary," Anagnostou said.
The PUD commissioners last year adopted two rate increases totaling 27 percent. They blamed the increases on a loss of wind power sales to California and a 7.8 percent increase in BPA's wholesale energy rate.
The utility also needed to replace low-cost power from Central Washington with more expensive power from BPA.
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