[3/30/22] Okanogan PUD Rates Going Up

Posted in Public Utility

Okanogan County PUD customers will see their electric bills going up next month. The new rates reflect the 3.75% overall revenue increase approved in last year’s budget process.

Each customer class will be adjusted individually, following the guidance of the cost of service study. The study showed that some classes need a higher increase than others in order to pay their full share of the costs incurred by providing electric service. Changes are proposed for both the basic monthly charge and the kilowatt-hour energy charge.

The average rate increase:

* Residential customers will see a 5 percent increase

* Small general service customers rates will go up 3.25 percent

* Large general service and industrial customers will see increases of less than two percent

* Irrigation rates will go up 2.5%

* Frost control rates go up 10%

The PUD purchases its power from certain contracts with Bonneville Power Administration, Douglas County PUD and Energy Northwest and the energy market. With two peak records set in 2021 (one in summer, one in winter), the cost of power was much higher last year than in 2020. The PUD’s cost of power adjustment adjusts April 1 to reflect the actual cost of the power. The PUD was $1.7 million short of its budget for power in 2021, so the COPA will likely be increased.

With construction and equipment costs rising and utility infrastructure already aging out of service, the PUD has raised rates in recent years to fund regular maintenance without having to always borrow money. Large projects underway include the steel Okanogan-Brewster transmission line, Tonasket substation rebuild and the continuation of replacing aging power transformers in substations, mostly funded by a $40 million bond issue in 2020.

The board approved the new rates at their meeting this past Monday.