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Posted on Sep 24, 2015

Report: Industrial users benefit PUD

The growth in the last 10 years in ag-related food processors and data centers in Grant County has resulted in an additional $150 million for Grant PUD over the last 10 years, according to a recently released report.

“Without the load growth that we had over the past 10 years, our revenues would have been 12.1 percent less,” PUD spokesman Chuck Allen said.

In addition, to make up for that $150 million, the utility would have had to increase rates by 12.1 percent, Allen said.

PUD staff on Tuesday presented Grant PUD commissioners with the report. The report was meant to explore – and answer – the question of whether industrial load growth from 2005 to 2014 financially benefited or hurt the district.

The results show that the district benefited from the industrial load growth. The report isn’t necessarily surprising; however, it does add some science to that answer, Allen said.

In 2004, Grant PUD powered the entire county with 341 average megawatts of electricity. Last year, that need had grown nearly 46 percent to 497 megawatts, an approximate annual growth rate of 4.6 percent.

Utility projections estimate the county will use an average of 698 megawatts by 2030.

The report comes as the PUD prepares to hold its annual budget hearings. Public hearings are 2 p.m. on Oct. 13 at Grant PUD offices in Ephrata and 6 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Moses Lake Fire Station, 701 E. 3rd Ave. in Moses Lake.

Increases in power rates have been hotly debated at times this past year, as Grant PUD commissioners have adopted a cost-of-service method when establishing rate increases through 2023. In 2013, commissioners passed a policy that sets a target date of 2023 to achieve more equality between its rate classes.

The policy stipulates customer classes must pay at least 80 percent of the cost of providing their electricity and can’t pay more than 15 percent over the cost of service.

The two user groups currently most out of line with their cost of service are irrigators and large industrial users. Irrigators pay more than 40 percent below the cost of providing their electricity while large industrial users, which includes Quincy data centers, pay about 35 percent above their actual cost.

“It is one of the things that would be used to shape rate policy, but it isn’t necessarily going to be a driving factor,” Allen said of the recent report.

 

— By Jill FitzSimmons, editor@qvpr.com

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