Chelan County PUD commissioners on Tuesday approved a five-year plan of moderate utility rate increases, as called for in the strategic plan, to help reduce the risk of larger increases in the future.
Commissioners unanimously approved the plan outlined in the 2020-2024 strategic plan and discussed over the last several months. (At 00:09 on the board meeting audio recording.)
The plan goes into effect on June 1 for the PUD’s residential electric, water, wastewater and wholesale Fiber customers. Rate changes for commercial and industrial electric customers are set for Dec. 1. After that, annual changes will be effective on June 1, 2021-2024.
Under the approved plan, the average home electric bill will increase in small annual steps from about $55 a month now to 63.75 in 2024. The residential rate change is focused on the customer charge, which is the fixed amount on the monthly bill that recovers the cost of being connected to the grid, no matter the amount of power used.
As directed by the strategic plan, the increased electric rate revenue will go into reserves to help reduce the risk of large rate increases in the future.
Other rate changes approved are:
- 3-percent, per-year electric rate change for all non-residential customers
- 4-percent water and wastewater change per year to move the systems toward sustainability
- 3-percent per year wholesale Fiber rate change
Discounts for low income senior and disabled customers also will increase by 3 percent for electric and 4 percent for water and wastewater. This is the first change in electric rates in nine years.
General Manager Steve Wright noted the extensive billing system work needed to put the rate changes into place and cautioned that the effective dates could be adjusted if more time is needed. “Our No. 1 priority is producing accurate bills,” Wright said.
Commissioners thanked staff and customer-owners for being involved through strategic planning and in this year’s rate discussions.
Board President Garry Arseneault recognized the energy shown by all in getting to this point. “It didn’t happen quickly, but it happened carefully. Thank you to everyone,” Arseneault said.
Added Commissioner Steve McKenna, “I really appreciate the process…It has been exemplary and well thought out. There was a great deal of time taken and a lot of public comment sought and received.”
In other business, commissioners:
- Approved the purchase of a quarter-acre parcel from Scott McDougall that could offer a first step toward a possible loop trail extension and added shoreline access to the Wenatchee River. The land is next to the PUD’s new Service Center site in Olds Station. Dan Frazier, Shared Service director, said one comment in support of the purchase was received since discussion at the Feb. 3 board meeting that included points helpful in understanding public access to the river. The sale price is $300,000 and terms call for closing before March 5. (00:42)
- Reviewed Energy Resources’ fourth quarter 2019 results. Energy Trading Manager Janet Jaspers reported 2019’s net wholesale and other energy-related revenue was $7.7 million more than budget, noting that retained surplus proceeds on a long-term hydro contract and real-time agreement revenues more than offset impacts from low stream flows and unit outages. (00:21)
- Rescheduled the board workshop to 9 a.m. on Friday, May 1, at Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Way, Wenatchee. (01:22)
- March 2 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
- March 16 – Commission meeting, 10 a.m., boardroom
- March 27 – Northwest Mariachi Festival, 7 p.m., Town Toyota Center
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The next regular PUD commission meeting is at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 2, in the boardroom at 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.
Chelan PUD records most commission meetings, and a link to the audio is available on the PUD’s home page at www.chelanpud.org. Find us at Facebook.com/ChelanPUD and follow us on Twitter @ChelanPUD.
Here for you, providing the best for the most for the longest – chelanpud.org