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PUD customers to see rate increases in 2014

Grays Harbor PUD customers could see a 5.5 percent rate increase next year to mitigate rising power costs from the Bonneville Power Administration, according to a draft budget put together by PUD officials. The draft was presented at the Nov. 18 PUD Commission meeting, and will be finalized later this year.

Doug Streeter, chief financial officer for the utility, said he expects the PUD’s power costs to increase by about $1.8 million in the next year, largely the result of the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that supplies much of Grays Harbor’s power, raising rates earlier this year.

Bonneville increased power rates by 9 percent and transmission rates by 11 percent in October. In an August press release, BPA officials said the rate increase is the result of increased maintenance and operations costs, as well as the cost of funding fish and wildlife mitigation programs.

Bonneville Power Administration is the PUD’s largest supplier, but state and federal regulations mandate that some of the utility’s power come from renewable sources, such as wind farms.

“We know that’s going to seem like a lot, but we’re doing what we can,” Streeter said.

Customers won’t likely see the full increase in January, Streeter said. The rate increase will be broken in two, with a 3.75 percent increase in January and a 1.75 percent increase in July. With the full 5.5 percent increase in place, the average customer will pay an extra $5 each month, the utility estimates.

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