by Marissa Luck
The Bonneville Power Administration has proposed increasing its wholesale power rates by 3.5 percent starting next October, and that may affect rates for Cowlitz PUD customers.
BPA is a federal agency that supplies about 90 percent of Cowlitz PUD's energy, so the agency's rate hikes have a big effect on local electric rates.
Cowlitz PUD commissioners passed a budget last month that does not include rate hikes for 2017, but the utility is not certain it can absorb the proposed BPA price hikes without raising its own rates late next year.
Until BPA makes a final decision, "we will continue to focus our efforts on keeping our rates low, our system reliable and our employees and customers safe. When we do find out what the BPA increase will look like, we will be able to determine the possibility of a second year of no rate increases," Alice Dietz, PUD spokeswoman, said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the BPA released its initial rate proposal for fiscal year 2018, which starts next Oct. 1. It includes a 3.5 percent average wholesale power rate increase and a 1.1 percent average transmission rate increase.
The agency said its costs of running Columbia River hydroelectric dams is expected to increase, and the agency also will pay more for fish and wildlife programs. At the same, the BPA expects to generate less income from power sales because it expects power demand to decrease.
Transmission rate increases were minimized by focusing on investing in only the most essential work and capital projects, the BPA said.
"These rates represent months of work to reduce budgets and focus on cost-management measures to lower expected rate increases," BPA administrator and CEO Elliot Mainzer said.
Bonneville Already Projecting Electricity Rate Increase for 2018 by Marissa Luck, The Daily News, 8/9/16
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