A rate increase to be considered by the Grays Harbor Public Utility District Board of Commissioners will be lower than the amount called for in the 2015 budget. Despite increased power costs, a warm winter and the cost of the Harbor Paper clean-up project, PUD management will be asking the commissioners to approve a 2.5% increase to customer rates rather than the budgeted 3%.
The increase is part of the budget approved by the commissioners in December of 2014 and reflects several factors including:
- A 7.1% increase in the power rates and 4.4% increase in transmission rates charged by the Bonneville Power Administration, with a projected annual cost to the PUD of $2.4 million.
- A warm winter which caused power consumption to come in well below budgeted levels.
- Over $2 million in costs associated with the PUD’s clean-up of the Harbor Paper mill site in Hoquiam.
“These factors could have contributed to a larger increase, or cuts in the area of system maintenance and management of utility assets,” said PUD General Manager Dave Ward. “Our goal was to lessen the size of the increase and avoid cuts that would have impacted system reliability and safety. Thanks to the work of PUD staff and our representatives in Olympia, we were able to achieve that goal.”
Working with Hoquiam Senator Jim Hargrove and the members of the Coastal Caucus, $2.6 million for the Harbor Paper clean-up was included in the 2015-17 Capital Budget approved by the Legislature on June 30th.
“Without that assistance, the PUD would not have been able to absorb the effects of the warm winter and the higher than expected increase in power costs from the Bonneville Power Administration,” said Ward. “PUD staff has also done an exceptional job of controlling internal costs to help lower the number that we will be asking our commissioners to adopt.”
The commissioners will consider the rate increase at their August 10th meeting. If adopted, the increase would go into effect in September. Rather than implementing the new rates on the first of the year when power bills are typically at their highest, the PUD has begun the practice of implementing necessary increases during the warmer summer months.