Two-tier customer rate structure to be merged

OKANOGAN - PUD commissioners approved a 2021 budget, including expenditures of $48.9 million, revenues of $56.8 million and capital outlay of $35.3 million.
Resolution 1733 also includes the approval of a 3.25 percent revenue increase, but how that will be applied across rate classes is yet to be determined. Staff are using the PUD’s recent cost of service study to determine an equitable distribution.
Rate structures will also be adjusted to account for state public utility and privilege taxes on customer bills. The district pays about $2.8 million per year to the state in taxes, but the bills currently do not designate that as a line item.
Residential customers will also see the two-tier structure of rates merged into one rate. The tiers are currently at about 4.5 cents for under 2,000 kWh monthly usage and 6.6 cents per kWh for usage above 2,000 kWh. The new single rate (yet to be determined) will simplify billing and will give relief to low-income or fixed-income customers in the higher usage category.
The PUD has been considering rate increases to go into effect April 1, 2021, to keep up with the increasing costs the district faces, including rebuilding aging and damaged infrastructure.
The approved budget also includes a 1.3 percent cost of living adjustment (non-union), according to the Consumer Price Index. 
In other business, the board:
• Observed Commissioner Scott Vejraska take his oath of office after his re-election this November to a six-year term.
• Heard that retail power sales were $680,000 over the expected budget in October, making up for part of the year-long budgetary shortfall. Wholesale power sales were also over budget in November by $155,000. The district is now $617,000 under budget for total power sales (as opposed to $1.4 million the month before).
• Heard from Gadeberg that broadband billed more than $285,000 Dec. 1, with 3,534 end users now on the fiber and wireless system.
• Heard that Douglas PUD has announced an increase to their power rates, so the Okanogan PUD expects to pay an additional $452,000 for calendar year 2021. The increase is part of an ongoing effort to fund upgrades and repairs at Wells Dam.
• Heard that the SolarWinds hack affecting multiple national agencies did not compromise Okanogan County PUD systems. The version of SolarWinds that monitors the PUD’s broadband network was not involved in the security breach. 
• Authorized the general manager to execute Contract No. JT 2021-03 with McMillen, LLC dba McMillen Jacobs Associates in an amount not to exceed $268,694 for Enloe Dam Owner’s Advisor Services through Dec. 31, 2021.

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