PUD commissioners pass rate increases for next year
Grant PUD customers across the board will see higher rates next year.
Commissioners last week voted to stick with a plan that calls for raising rates for all classes. The rate increases vary, including 0.5 percent for large industrial customers such as data centers and 4.3 percent for ag processor customers.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to pass the rate increases; commissioners Tom Flint and Dale Walker voted against the resolution.
Walker did not support instituting any rate increases this year. Flint, on the other hand, preferred to see an across-the-board 2 percent increase for all rate classes.
Flint said it isn’t unusual that Class 15, which includes the data centers, supports the plan. The rate class will see the smallest increase next year; however, users in that class are paying about 35 percent above the actual cost to serve them.
“They’ve got a good deal and I don’t think they need a better deal,” Flint said of the large industrials.
PUD Commissioner Larry Schaapman supported the rate increases.
“This utility needs to be operated as a business,” Schaapman said. “We need to be willing to accept change.”
Last month, commissioners passed a $257.5 million budget for next year. The new budget calls for a 2 percent retail revenue increase for next year. The proposed rate increases for next year include:
w1.6 percent for residential customers
w3.5 percent for commercial businesses
w3.3 percent for irrigators
w4.9 percent for Class 14 industrial customers
w4.3 percent for Class 16 ag processor customers
w0.5 percent for Class 15 industrial customers (includes Quincy data centers)
The rate increases are projected to increase a residential customer’s bill by an average of $1.53 a month, a commercial business’ bill by $9.64 a month and an irrigator customer’s bill by $22.35 a month.
The 2016 proposed rates represent year two in a 10-year trajectory. Commissioners have adopted a cost-of-service model that ties rates more closely to the actual cost of providing services to its various customers.
Schaapman said he knows there’s anxiety among the ag and industrial users. He asked that those people who are still frustrated to meet with staff to gain a better understanding of the mechanics of the utility’s budget and the cost-of-service model.
“I do believe it’s sound science,” he said. “I do believe it’s the direction this utility needs to go to keep this utility whole.”
— By Jill FitzSimmons, email@example.com