The Grays Harbor PUD will increase customer electricity rates by 2.75% starting on April 1st. The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the increase at their Monday evening meeting.
“We take this very seriously and understand that this will impact our customers. This amount is the lowest practical cost which will allow the utility to provide safe and reliable services,” said General Manager Dave Ward. “We continue to look closely at our budgets, keep capital costs in house and seek to foster economic development in our county.”
The main factors driving the need for the increase are increased costs for power purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration. The BPA announced their intention to increase their rates by 5.4% in 2018.
The decision to increase the rates followed commission discussion on the final size of the increase. Originally the utility had budgeted a 3% increase as part of their 2018 budget, but chose to delay implementing the increase until the spring.
“As a utility, we choose to wait until power use has decreased in the warmer months so that customer bills are not as high,” said Board President Arie Callaghan. “This also allows the utility to include outside factors like winter weather and power use in our final decision. Based on those factors, the board was able to knock a little off the total increase. A quarter-percent is not much, but it brings us to an amount that will allow the utility to continue to serve our customers and responsibly manage the utility finances.”
Originally, Callaghan had requested that the increase be approved at 2.5%, but agreed to the 2.75% increase after discussion with Commissioners Russ Skolrood and Dave Timmons.
“This is a matter of fact. It would be great if we had more revenue and the cost for the power we purchase was lower, but the numbers before us are what they are,” said Commission Vice President Skolrood. “To go lower would impact reserves and put us in a position where we may need a larger increase in the years to come.”
“Costs are going up. When power costs rise, so do our customer rates. I hate this time of year and this decision, but it’s what needs to happen,” said Commission Secretary Timmons.