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Economic and dam related articles

PUD Eyes Electrical Rates
Increase for Lewis County

by Carly Nairn
Lewiston Tribune, November 18, 2009

Costs Rising: Green Power Provision Pushing Electrical Rates Higher

Electrical rates are set to increase by 9.4 percent for the Lewis County Public Utility District due to a combination of the Bonneville Power Administration adjusting its rates on Oct. 1 and Initiative 937, a voter initiative passed in November 2006 which requires electricity providers, including the PUD, to use alternative energy.

"In October, Bonneville raised its rate by 7.5 percent," said Dave Muller, the general manager of Lewis County PUD.

The agency supplies the majority of energy for the utility company, he said.

"It is now just starting to hit us." Muller said.

Centralia City Light, which provides electricity for the area within the city limits, pays an average of about 40 to 50 percent of its power bill to BPA, said General Manager Ed Williams.

"We have been wrestling all fall with what to do about that increase," he said. "By the next year we are going to have to deal with that rate increase."

"We are not increasing the rates today," Williams said.

The PUD has about 32,000 customers; Centralia City Light has about 10,000 customers.

With details to be finalized for the PUD next month, the rate represents the increase of rates by the BPA and the cost of initiating green power.

Initiative 937 requires "large utilities to obtain 15 percent of their electricity from new renewable resources such as solar and wind by 2020 and undertake cost-effective energy conservation," according to the documentation of the initiative.

The Bonneville increase costs the PUD $2 million, with another $2 million in costs for complying with Initiative 937, Muller said.

"Those two cost items alone are the cause of the increase," Muller said. "We went through a very detailed cost-service analysis."

"It's unfortunate, but based upon the current economy the initiative is even harder to comply with," Muller said.

Carly Nairn
PUD Eyes Electrical Rates Increase for Lewis County
Lewiston Tribune, November 18, 2009

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