Clallam PUD readies for increase in ultility rates

A second 3.5 percent electricity bump in two years is proposed in the Clallam Public Utility District’s 2015 budget along with other increases for sewer and wastewater users.

A second 3.5 percent electricity bump in two years is proposed in the Clallam Public Utility District’s 2015 budget along with other increases for sewer and wastewater users.

Before implementing anything though, Clallam PUD officials host three informational meetings on the electricity increase for customers going into effect on April 1, 2015, and 6 percent water and sewer rate increases in Jan. 1, 2015.

The first meeting is held in Sequim from 1-2 p.m. today, Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., the second 1-2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at JT’s Sweet Stuffs in Forks, and at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, in the PUD’s main office, 2431 E. U.S. Highway 101, Port Angeles.

Commissioners anticipate reviewing and adopting the utility district’s budget on Dec. 15.

The proposed electricity increase would add 3.5 percent to everyone’s bills, which equates to about $3.35 per month for customer using 1,200 kWh per month.

Proposed water and sewer changes of 6 percent would impact more than 900 Sequim area residents and add about $2.50 per month to water bills and $2.40 per month for sewer bills.

Doug Nass, PUD general manager, said rate increases for utilities are necessary at this time.

“BPA (Bonneville Power Administration) increases, regulatory mandates, operational and maintenance costs result in rate pressures that need to be addressed,” he said.

Utility district electricity customers saw a 3.5 percent increase in July, which was the fourth time in five years PUD commissioners agreed to raise rates.

Previous increases were 3 percent in 2013, 3 percent in 2012 and 8 percent in 2010.

Michael Howe, public utility district communications and government relations manager, said the second 3.5 percent increase stems from Bonneville’s 8 percent wholesale power increase from 2013 but PUD commissioners wanted to minimize the impact to customers thus delaying the second increase into 2015.

Other costs, Howe said, include rising costs for materials, operations, maintenance and technology.

“Renewable energy mandates and conservation mandates, such as those from the Washington Energy Independence Act (formerly known as Initiative 937), also will play a larger role in the future,” he said.

With water and wastewater rates, Howe said the increases stem from increasing maintenance and infrastructure costs.

Utility district staff anticipate another increase from Bonneville in October 2015 between 6-9 percent for wholesale electricity.

Howe said staff and commissioners again will work to keep with the philosophy of providing low stable rates.

“Commissioners and PUD staff worked hard to find ways to minimize the impact on customers, maintain high reliability and strong customer service and I think we were effective at doing so while maintaining our ability to meet the demands of various rate pressures,” Nass said. “We are also able to meet our Strategic Plan Objectives and continue with the practice of low stable and predictable rates.”

Howe said staff and commissioners anticipate electricity rates continuing to rise 3-3.5 percent annually in the foreseeable future.

For more information on the PUD and its proposed budget, visit www.clallampud.net.

 

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