CHIMACUM — The Jefferson County Public Utility District board will conduct a rate hearing today to discuss proposed increases of both electric and water/sewer rates.
The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at the Chimacum Fire Hall, 9193 Rhody Drive.
“The rate hearing provides an additional opportunity for the board and the public to hear the proposals and offer comments and questions,” said PUD Board President and District 1 representative Jeff Randall in a news release.
A 4.8 percent increase to residential electrical rates was proposed at a special PUD rate hearing in November.
If the electrical rate is adopted, it would raise the current residential base rate from $14.50 to $18.50 and increase the consumption rate by $0.0084 per kilowatt hour.
The board previously approved the 2018 budget based on the increased revenues. It is not expected to make a final vote on an electrical rate change until the Feb. 7 regular meeting.
A date for a final vote on water/sewer rates has not been set.
Consultant Gail Tabone recommends the district raise water and sewer rates by 10 percent and add a $10 capital surcharge fee to monthly bills.
If the proposal is approved, the average increase per bill is expected to be $13 for residential water, $22 for commercial water and $3 for sewer.
With the fee increases, customers would still pay less than residents in Port Townsend, Port Angeles and Clallam County, the PUD said.
Tabone, of EES Consulting, estimated that even with rate increases a PUD electrical bill for 1200 kwh would still fall below a bill from Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Light.
The PUD stands to lose more than $330,000 on the cost of operating its water systems this year if rates aren’t raised, according to PUD officials.
Though he does not expect to present a final proposal Monday, Assistant Manager Kevin Streett is also working on
adjusting the PUD’s wholesale fiber rates, the PUD said in the release.
Instead of an increase, however, Streett expects to lower the cost of installing and leasing PUD high speed fiber.
He said that pursuit of a rate decrease was inspired by the PUD’s participation in the current Water Street
Enhancement project. Because of ongoing construction, and partnerships with the City of Port Townsend, the PUD will be able to install more fiber downtown and more cheaply than in the past, he said.
Streett expects to present the new decreased rates to the board of commissioners on Feb. 20.