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Economic and dam related articles

Cowlitz PUD Budget
for 3.2 Percent Rate Hike

by Don Jenkins
The Daily News, December 15, 2005

Cowlitz PUD commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved a 2006 budget that assumes they will raise electric rates by 3.2 percent by March 1.

The commissioners have not yet approved the rate increase, but the budget includes $2.1 million the hike would be expected to generate.

General Manager Brian Skeahan said he plans to recommend a rate hike early next year. He warned that another rate hike is possible later in 2006 because of increases in energy costs.

A 3.2 percent increase would restore rates to October 2004 levels and would be enough to cover a 30 percent increase in PUD insurance costs.

Commissioners decreased rates in 2004 because the Bonneville Power Administration, the source of most power consumed in Cowlitz County, lowered its rates.

The 2006 budget projects revenues of $204 million, a 15 percent increase over the 2005 budget, and expenditures of $196.6 million.

Year-to-year changes in the PUD budget are largely driven by the cost of energy and the amount consumed. Some 80 percent of the PUD budget goes for buying or generating electricity.

The PUD anticipates another large industrial customer, the Equa-Chlor chlorine plant built on Weyerhaeuser Co. property, will come online at the beginning of the year.

The budget calls for increasing the PUD payroll by the equivalent of 3.4 full-time employees to 151.8. Officials cited customer growth.

Commissioners John Searing, Ned Piper and Buz Ketcham approved the budget.

Don Jenkins
Cowlitz PUD Budgets for 3.2 Percent Rate Hike
The Daily News, December 15, 2005

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