Grays Harbor PUD, which has not enacted a rate increase since 2002 and receives 78 percent of its power from the BPA, has been significantly impacted by the costly 4.6 percent rate increase levied by BPA last October.
Voter-approved I-937, now known as the Energy Independence Act, requires utilities with 25,000 (Grays Harbor PUD has about 43,000) or more customers to generate a specific percentage of their energy from renewable energy resources, as well do all cost effective energy conservation measures. The PUD has been obligated to make significant investments in developing wind farms and other renewable projects because hydropower, which makes up most of the PUD’s power resources, is not an eligible resource that can be applied to the meet the state mandates. In addition, spending for conservation is increasing to meet requirements under the Act.
In addition secondary power markets, historically a revenue source for the PUD through surplus power sales, have been depressed, adding to the current budgetary restraints currently faced by the PUD.
“In past years the PUD has been fortunate enough to generate revenue from strong surplus power markets. Unfortunately, with the continued weak economy, surplus power sales are down and we are forecasting further decreased revenues in 2010,” said General Manager Rick Lovely.
Prior to recommending a rate increase, the PUD utilized several cost saving measures including reductions in staffing levels through attrition.
The rate increase will go into effect February 1, 2010. The increase will mean an increase in the average customer’s bill of $7 per month.