PUD to raise rates in ‘22,’23

Concerns expressed about seasonal irrigation customers

CARLSBORG — Clallam County Public Utility District residential customers will see a 2.25 percent increase on their electric bills in each of the next two years.

District commissioners voted 2-1 this month — with Jim Waddell opposed — to raise electric rates by 2.25 percent on April 1, 2022 and another 2.25 percent on April 1, 2023.

For an average residential customer using 1,350 kilowatt hours of electricity, monthly base rates will go from $39.55 per month today to $40.50 next April and $43.29 in April 2023, according to approved rate schedules.

Electric usage rates will rise from 7.61 cents per kilowatt hour today to 7.78 cents next April and 7.80 cents in April 2023, district spokeswoman Nicole Hartman said Thursday.

The PUD board last raised electric rates 3.5 percent per year in 2019.

Clallam PUD and other Northwest utilities, including the city of Port Angeles, purchase wholesale electricity from Bonneville Power Administration.

Clallam PUD initially proposed a 3.5 percent rate increase for 2022 and 2023. The rate increases were lowered to 2.25 percent after the district performed a cost of service analysis.

A small business using 1,625 kilowatt hours of electricity will see a 6.63 percent increase on their basic customer charge next year and a 6.28 percent increase in April 2023, according to the electric rate schedules.

The higher base rate will be offset by lower energy charges, which will increase just 0.4 percent in each of the next two years.

A medium-sized business or public agency using 21,250 kilowatt hours of electricity will see a 1.12 percent rise in their basic customer charges next year and a 1.11 percent increase in 2023.

Energy charges for the medium general service classification will increase by 2.37 percent next year and 2.16 percent in 2023.

A large business or public agency using 160,000 kilowatt hours of electricity will see base rates increase by 2.25 percent in each of the next two years.

Usage rates for large general service customers will rise 2.34 percent next year and 2.10 percent in 2023, according to the electric rate schedule.

Commissioners Will Purser and Rick Paschall voted to approve the new rates in an Aug. 9 meeting. Waddell voted no.

Irrigation customers

All three commissioners said they had concerns about a 5.68-percent electric rate increase for seasonal irrigation customers.

The board directed staff to reach out to the 92 irrigators in the district about the new rates.

“Let’s have a discussion about this with the irrigators, or at least let them know, for sure, that their rates are going up,” Waddell said.

PUD General Manager Doug Nass said the proposed rates had been posted on the district’s website, www.clallampud.net.

“They’re not necessarily looking at our website,” Waddell said.

“I think we ought to be a little bit more aggressive in terms of communicating that with them.”

The new rates were designed to spread the costs of providing electricity more evenly among customers.

“What we need to communicate to (irrigators) is our concern about they’re not paying their fair share and spreading the cost over other customers,” Paschall said.

“That, to me, fundamentally doesn’t feel right.”

“How do you know what those other customers feel?” Waddell replied.

“I mean, there’s a lot of people in this county that support small agriculture.”

“Indeed,” Paschall said. “That’s part of getting the word out and seeing what kind of feedback we get.”

Rather than delaying a vote on the new rates, Purser and Paschall opted to approve the rates as recommended by staff.

“In my opinion, it all comes down to the equity thing,” said Purser, board chairman.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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