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Posted on Feb 10, 2018

Grant PUD talks about electricity rate increases

Grant PUD customers face modest rate increases this year as seen in information presented at the Grant PUD public meeting Jan. 23 in Ephrata.
Several people at the meeting said there were no surprises in the presentation of the proposed rate increases. Grant PUD is trying to arrive at a set of rate increases that produce about $3.8 million for the 2018 rate year, which runs April 1 to March 31, and amount to 2 percent more retail revenue.
In the rate proposal, the average customer’s monthly bill increases:
• Rate 1, Residential, by $1.49;
• Rate 2, General Service, by $6.43;
• Rate 3, Irrigation, by $24.65;
• Rate 7, Large General, by $73.85.
Jeremy Nolan, a financial analyst for Grant PUD, presented explanations of the rate structure and led the discussion of the complex numbers and terms. After going through charts and explaining the proposed changes in each rate class, several people in the audience asked questions or made comments. About 30 individuals were in the audience.
In one exchange, an audience member stated that the 0.7 percent increase listed for class 15, industrial customers, was too little for Bitcoin operations. She said the crypto-currency operations are attracted to Grant County for the affordable electricity, and that their rate increase is much smaller and less significant to them than the greater increases for irrigators and ag food processors.
Grant PUD General Manager Kevin Nordt gave a detailed reply, including an explanation that schedule 15, industrial customers, are paying enough to help keep the rate increases down in the 1, 2 and 3 classes.
Grant PUD has received many requests for electricity lately from crypto-currency operations, and an analysis of the cost to serve them is in process.
Nolan said that not all crypto-currency applicants are in class 15, and the question of whether crypto-currency should be in a separate rate class will come up in the utility’s study of its rate design coming soon.
Grant PUD’s debt was also remarked on by an audience member, and that was followed by lengthy discussion of the need for and use of debt.
Grant PUD says the proposed electricity rate increase would be the fourth consecutive annual increase under a policy established in 2013 to help keep the utility on a path of financial stability by more closely aligning the rate paid by each customer class to the cost to provide it with electricity.
The rate proposal will be discussed again at the commissioners’ meeting at 1 p.m., Feb. 13. Comments can also be made via email to commissioners@gcpud.org or by mailing Grant PUD Commissioners at P.O. Box 878, Ephrata, WA, 98823. Information about the proposed changes is also at grantpud.org.
The target is March 13 for the rates proposal to be in front of the commission to take action, and the rates will be effective on April 1.

By Dave Burgess, qvpreditor@gmail.com

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