Public Comment Form for April 6th Rate Hearing
On Tuesday April 6th at 5pm, the PUD Board of Commissioners will be reviewing a staff proposal to raise rates for all electric, water, and sewer services. View list of proposed rates here.
The proposed increases follow recommendations from a recently completed Cost of Service Study performed by FCS Group on behalf of the PUD. The study showed most current PUD rates did not match the cost of providing the services. Expenses outpaced revenues for water and sewer services in 2020, with a $400,000 shortfall in net margins predicted in the 2021 budget. Though the 2021 budget for the electric department is forecasted at $1.6M to the positive, FCS found that current rates would result in the PUD failing to meet required ratios for debt service beginning in 2023.
According to General Manager Kevin Streett, the PUD must raise rates. “Current water and sewer rates do not cover the day-to-day costs of providing the services nor the millions in capital improvements we know our aging water and sewer systems need. On the electrical side, upcoming capital improvements are also a driving factor. Most outages in our county are storm related, but more and more are due to aging equipment that we cannot improve or replace without adequate capital reserves.”
Streett has proposed a series of gradual rate increases over the next 4 years. According to Streett, the PUD’s low-income credit would increase at the same rate to ensure support for struggling customers. “Our current low-income budget is $500,000 a year. We also collect and distribute on bill donations of around $30,000 for customers who are really struggling through the Rainy Day Fund. We helped dozens of businesses affected by COVID get access to $40,000 in CARES act funding to pay down past due bills. We know a lot of people are struggling and we do not take that lightly.”
While Streett recommended increases for most commercial service rates, he did not propose any electric rate increases for schools. He invites customers to review the full slate of proposed rate changes on the PUD’s website and welcomes customer feedback. “Staff can only make suggestions. The commissioners have the ultimate say on rates. They are elected by the public and they take public comment seriously.”
Note: the PUD does not provide water and sewer services in the City of Port Townsend.