The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners have approved a $126-million budget for 2019 that reflects an improving financial situation and a dedication to improving the utility infrastructure.

“This budget shows us that the PUD is on the right track,” said Board President Arie Callaghan.  “We continue to live within our means and as district finances improve, we can put additional resources into the utility system that will improve safety and reliability for the PUD’s customers.  That is what they expect and what this budget accomplishes.”

The budget calls for the PUD to spend $9.1 million on capital projects.  Nearly three-quarters of every dollar spent on capital improvements will go to the replacement of aging equipment, including aerial and underground transmission and distribution lines, hundreds of utility poles, and substation transformers and circuit breakers.

Roughly 56% of the budget will go to power purchases from the Bonneville Power Administration, and renewable energy contracts including the Nine Canyon Wind Project, the Coastal Energy Project and Sierra Pacific Industries.  Utility operations and maintenance costs make up just 21% of the district’s spending.

Because of increased power costs of over a half-million dollars and a projected 5% increase in BPA costs in October, customer rates are proposed to increase 2.5 percent beginning on April 1, 2019.   The delay will allow the PUD to assess any weather or market changes that take place over the winter and make any needed adjustments.

“Rate increases are not something the utility or the board take lightly,” said Commission Vice-President Russ Skolrood.  “As power costs rise, so too do the costs for the PUD.  However, we continue to work with Bonneville and other power providers to ensure that the needs of our customers are known and that we provide power at the lowest cost we can afford.”