Planned Clallam PUD electricity rate increase could be offset

PORT ANGELES — Wholesale rate decreases and possible refunds from Bonneville Power Administration could offset proposed Clallam County Public Utility District rate increases — if the Bonneville measures come through.

PUD commissioner Hugh Haffner said during a public hearing Monday that nothing from the Bonneville rate case could take effect before October.

“We feel that all of that money belongs to our customers who were the ones that overpaid in the past,” Haffner said.

“But when and if that money comes through is still in question.”

The PUD rate increases would be effective April 1.

Monday’s hearing was on proposed rate increases that would raise the average residential rate by 6.3 percent, the average commercial rate by 5.5 percent and the average industrial rate by 6.5 percent.

None of the dozen people who attended the hearing — about half of whom were PUD staff members — spoke for or against rate increases.

But William Holbrook of Sequim asked about the Bonneville rate proposal.

Clallam PUD — which serves the entire county expect within the Port Angeles city limit, as well as the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill — and the city of Port Angeles both buy 99 percent of their wholesale power from Bonneville.

A 4 percent reduction in wholesale power rates and a 40 percent reduction in the subsidy paid by public utilities to investor-owned utilities was proposed by Bonneville in February.

If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the 4 percent wholesale rate reduction could take effect Oct. 1 — but appeals could hold it up longer.

The Clallam County PUD and other public utilities will argue through their trade association in the coming months that those reductions in both the wholesale power rates and subsidies paid to investor-owned utilities should be even larger.

In the meantime, the PUD has proposed rate increases that would provide the district a 6.5 increase in revenues.

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