Port Angeles utility increase leaves electricity rates unchanged in 2018

PORT ANGELES — Utility customers in the city of Port Angeles will pay an average of $3.59 more on monthly bills next year.

Electricity rates, however, will not change in 2018.

The Port Angeles City Council approved last Tuesday a one-year adjustment to utility rates, resulting in a 1.28 percent net increase for average residential customers.

The average utility bill for a Port Angeles household will go from $280.88 per month this year to $284.47 per month next year, according to staff.

Water rates will increase 0.2 percent, wastewater rates will rise 1.8 percent, stormwater rates will climb 5.4 percent and solid waste collection rates will increase 5.9 percent.

The city was able to keep electric rates flat despite a 9.49 percent increase in Bonneville Power Administration wholesale power rates by containing costs, using rate stabilization funds from a prior settlement and by making other adjustments within the utility, city officials said.

BPA provides wholesale power to Port Angeles and many other utilities in the region.

Electric rates for residential customers jumped 8.7 percent in 2015, 5.0 percent in 2016 and another 5 percent in 2017.

No public testimony was given in a second hearing on the utility rate proposal last Tuesday.

Several speakers complained about high utility bills in the first public hearing Dec. 12. Some said their utility bills in Port Angeles were higher than in large cities such as New York.

Port Angeles Senior Accountant and Revenue Officer Glen Goodworth provided a comparison of electric rates in Port Angeles and other cities based on information from Electricity Local, www.electricitylocal.com.

“You can see we’re 15 percent lower than the state average, and 39 percent lower than the national average,” Goodworth told the City Council.

“Of course, understand this is just related to the electric part only, but electricity is 50 percent of our bill. So it is a huge factor.”

Here is a summary of electric rates as provided by Electricity Local:

• Port Angeles — 7.21 cents per kilowatt hour

• Seattle — 7.75 cents per kilowatt hour

• Forks — 8.09 cents per kilowatt hour

• Sequim — 8.09 cents per kilowatt hour

• Port Townsend — 10.36 cents per kilowatt hour

• New York City — 23.21 cents per kilowatt hour

• Washington state average — 8.53 cents per kilowatt hour

• U.S. average — 11.88 cents per kilowatt hour

“As the site points out, we are doing real well as far as comparison to others,” Goodworth said.

Council member Lee Whetham and Brad Collins suggested that staff publish the electric rate comparison on the city’s website and monthly newsletter to utility customers.

Collins said he voted against utility rate increases during the recession in 2011 and 2012 because they were considerably higher than the rates before the council Tuesday.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” Collins said, “that we’ll be able to provide rates that we’re doing.”

“I certainly wouldn’t vote against this,” he said.

The City Council has identified utility rates and keeping rates affordable as a top priority.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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