PUD ratepayers will pay an average of 2% more for their power, although the utility’s commissioners delayed the rake hike by one month, citing “questions of economic certainty with coronavirus and oil prices affecting the market, as well as current struggles for the agricultural sector,” according to PUD Community Relations Coordinator Sheila Corson.
The Okanogan County Public Utility District (PUD) commissioners approved the rate increase by a 2-to-1 vote on March 9, with Commissioner Scott Vejraska voting against the increase. Vejraska said he didn’t believe this was the time to add to customer’s costs, according to Corson.
The rate increases are not the same for all service classes. Based on a cost-of-service analysis, the commissioners allocated the costs so that all users will pay closer to their share of the PUD’s costs of providing electric service to them. That cost includes maintenance and eventual replacement of infrastructure.
Residential customers will see a bigger jump in their rates than larger commercial users. This year, the residential increase will be 2.9%.
Starting May 1, the basic charge for residential customers will increase 69 cents per month, to $39.50. The cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) goes up to 5.294 cents for the first 2,000 kWh (about 7/10 of a cent more), and to 7.709 cents for more than 2,000 kWh (just over a cent more). Residential customers are the only ones who pay more per kWh for higher use. The average overall residential increase is $2.50 per month.
Frost-control customers will also pay a higher increase, with rates going up 10% to bring them closer to covering the cost of service.
Small general-service ratepayers (most businesses) will pay 1.8% more, and the PUD’s few industrial customers will pay 0.5% more.
Commissioner Bill Colyar was concerned that delaying infrastructure projects for lack of funds would ultimately lead to more outages and increased maintenance costs, Corson said. Postponing the rate increase by one month will cost the district about $75,000, she said.
The cost-of-service analysis found that existing rates for most service classes are within 5% of the PUD’s cost of providing power, but residential customers have been paying 17.5% less than it costs the PUD to provide their power, and frost-control customers came up short by more than 400%. Frost-control customers are typically orchards with wind machines to circulate warm air to protect blossoms.
More information on the rates, the cost-of-service analysis, and other financial documents are available on the PUD’s website at www.okanoganpud.org.