Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Okanogan PUD rate increase coming April 1

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OKANOGAN – County power customers will see their electric base rates rise by 1.5 percent effective April 1, 2019, according to a recent announcement from the Okanogan County PUD.

The PUD Board of Commissioners approved the increase during the utility’s December 2018 budget approval for the following year.
PUD officials cited ongoing construction programs to improve the utility’s aging infrastructure as a major driver of the rate hike.

“The business of providing reliable power is very capital intensive and with the PUD’s aging infrastructure, we need to commit financial resources to replace and increase the capacity of the system,” a PUD media release said.

Among the projects targeted for funding by the rate increase are:
• Brewster-to-Okanogan transmission line: Upgrading the 66-year-old line will enable the PUD to increase power capacity from Wells Dam to the central part of the system.
• Ellisforde transformer: Replacement of the 62-year-old unit at the Ellisforde subsdtation will increase power capacity at that facility.
• Tonasket substation: A second transformer will be added to the existing transformer that handles one of the heaviest power loads in the system. The second unit will increase substation capacity.
• Nespelem REA circuit addition: PUD will add a circuit out of the new Nespelem REA substation at Chicken Creek to increase power capacity to South Okanogan County. The additional circuit will allow PUD to offload some of the demand on the Brewster substation.
• Underground cable: Among other improvements is stepping up underground cable replacement in the system.
• Substation study: A 2019 study will explore a suitable location to construct an additional substation in the Brewster area to improve long-term capacity in the south county.

The kilowatt hour (kWh) charge will remain unchanged while the monthly base rate increases, the PUD announcement said.

“For example, the current base rate for a residential customer is $36 per month, and the proposed increase if $2.81 per month brings the new base rate up to $38.81,” the PUD explained.

Changing the base rate rather than the kWh charge maintains a constant application among customers and avoids monthly fluctuations.

“Small changes to the kWh charge can have a large impact on large users,” said the announcement. “The base charge attempts to recover the fixed costs of serving customers, including capital assets from the generation source to the customer meter.”

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