Clallam PUD rates to increase in April 2024

The average Clallam Public Utility District ratepayer will see a 3.5 percent increase in their monthly bill effective in April, down from the 4 percent increase recommended by PUD staff in September.

The rate increase will be included in the PUD’s 2024 budget, the final draft of which should come before commissioners at their Nov. 13 meeting, set for 1:30 p.m. in the Lake Crescent boardroom at the PUD’s main office, 104 Hooker Road, Sequim.

The 2024 operating budget for the electric utility is projected to be $87.5 million. The projected 2024 operating budget for the water utility is $13.5 million. The projected 2024 operating budget for the wastewater utility is $123,000.

“The vote was unanimous,” commissioner Ken Hays said last week. “All three of us wanted to keep rate increases as low as possible, especially next year and the year after, until we see how inflation and the economy and interest rates evolve.

“I expect to see the final draft budget at our next regular meeting, on the second Monday in November,” he added.

Monthly bill

The increase will change the average monthly residential bill by $5.07, from $144.45 (for 1,350 kilowatt hour — kWh — before taxes) to $149.52.

Estimated annual cuts in expenses total $571,000 in 2024 and another $566,000 in 2025 with substantially more required in 2026-2030.

The reductions in operations and maintenance in 2024 would emphasize maintaining customer service and reliability, not reducing capital expenses, until all operations and maintenance options are explored and not adding items back in future years.

The reductions would come from what were described as “employee and customer engagement activities,” such as travel and training, membership dues, tuition reimbursement, COVID testing, KONP Home Show, the Sequim Sunshine Festival and boardroom audio upgrades.

The reductions should have minimal effect on customer service and reliability, according to a presentation to the commissioners.

A one-year rate increase was recommended so further analysis of reductions in expenses, most likely capital projects, or a larger future rate could be conducted for 2025.

“The one-year increase provides further opportunity to assess revenue variations due to weather and prioritization of capital projects,” according to the presentation.

The district’s cost of service analysis was conducted by FCS Group of Redmond.