The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners has voted to change the rates for PUD customers which will take effect on April 1, 2017. Choosing to complete the recommendations from a 2015 cost of service study while acknowledging serious financial facts, the Board voted on Monday to eliminate the two tier residential rate in favor of a flat $0.085 rate. The utility will not change the system charge which will remain at $39 per month.
The elimination of the tiered system will mean all customers who use the full 360 kWhs previously offered in the first tier will see their PUD bills increase by $11 per month. The increase of the residential rate from $0.082 to $0.085 will impact all customer bills by $0.30 per 100 kWh used. All other rate schedules will see a 4% rate increase.
The utility will continue to monitor other variables through 2017 which may impact budget numbers including load growth and weather factors.
"Raising rates is the last thing we want to do, but rising power costs, soft surplus sales and existing high cost renewable energy contracts make this a necessary step. Our mission is to provide high value utility services at the lowest practical cost. Given the financial realities we are facing, this is the lowest practical cost we can accept without seriously impacting the service, safety and reliability we owe to our customers," said General Manager Dave Ward.
"We share and understand the frustration our customers are feeling at the prospect of higher rates but to delay the needed changes would only increase the cost to the utility and its customers," said Commission President Arie Callaghan. "'This restructure and increase are driven by financial facts which we are happy to share with any customer who wishes to learn about the realities the Grays Harbor PUD is facing."
The restructure completes the steps recommended by a cost of service study performed for the PUD in 2015. The commissioners chose to partially implement the restructure in 2016 to lessen the immediate impact. However, increasing rates from the Bonneville Power Administration continued weakening of the surplus power market and the rising cost of voter mandated renewable energy purchases made it impossible for the PUD to put off the increase any longer.
"To maintain the current rate structure would mean a larger increase. To use credit to pay the bill would simply postpone and increase the final cost. If we act now, we set the utility on stable ground," said Ward.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel," said Callaghan. "Expensive contracts will expire in the next five years, meaning the utility will have more revenue to put into the system and to pay down debt. By taking action now, we are helping to make sure the utility is stable and ready to move forward."
The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution on Monday to approve a rate increase and restructure for all PUD customers. If approved, the change would complete the implementation of recommendations from a 2015 cost of service study by eliminating the two tier residential rate in favor of a flat $0.085 rate. The resolution will not change the residential system charge which will remain at $39 per month.
”We understand that many of our customers are struggling already, with the current economy and financial hardships we witness on a daily basis.” said Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Skolrood. “Balancing our budget has become more and more difficult as the cost of power rises, the secondary market where we sell our surplus power has fallen, and we continue to be responsible for high cost renewable energy contracts.”
Under the proposed flat rate, a residential customer who uses 360 kWh’s of energy will see their bill increase by about $11 per month, while those that use an average of 1200 kWh’s will see their bill increase by about $13 per month. All other rate schedules will see a 4% rate increase.
"Our mission is to provide high value utility services at the lowest practical cost, and as such we continuously monitor internal costs and reduce spending wherever feasible. Adjusting rates is the last thing we want to do, but this is the lowest practical cost we can accept without seriously impacting the service, safety and reliability we owe to our customers," said General Manager Dave Ward.
The board will meet on Monday, March 6, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. to consider the resolution. If approved, the new rates will take effect on April 1, 2017.
Beginning in March, the Grays Harbor PUD will be updating its website security to ensure that data passed between the PUD servers and a customer’s computer or mobile device remains private and secure.
As a result of this security upgrade, customers who use PUD online systems to pay bills or use other online features will need to ensure that their operating systems and mobile devices are compatible with the PUD’s new system. The PUD has created a test website (https://ssl.ghpud.org/test) for customers to connect to from their computer or mobile device. If the site loads without any issues, your operating system or device will support the new protocol.
If the site does not load, customers that wish to continue utilizing our online services will need totake the following steps:
- First try using a different web browser. Options include Internet Explorer, Chrome, MozillaFirefox, Opera, Safari. Some may be compatible while others are not.
- Earlier phone models, tablets, etc. with older operating systems may not be compatible with the new protocol. This includes flip phones and blackberries.
- Update the operating system on their computer or mobile device. Smart phones should be running the most current operating system and updated web browser software applications.
- Customers in need of assistance should contact a local Computer Services provider.
Telephone scammers are again targeting Grays Harbor PUD customers, threatening to shut-off their power if payments are not immediately made on accounts that they claim are delinquent. PUD Customer Service staff have received several calls from commercial customers reporting they had been contacted by callers claiming to be with the PUD and demanding immediate payment.
“If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the PUD, call our customer service office to verify your account status before you make any payment,” said Customer Service Manager Katy Moore. “These scams only work when people volunteer their personal information.”
Recipients of such fraudulent phone calls and mailings should under no circumstances agree to send money to the callers or give them bank account, credit card or other information. Rather, they are advised to contact PUD Customer Service at 360-532-4220 to verify the claim and to contact the office of their local law enforcement agency.
Due to technical issues, the Grays harbor PUD is unable to process electronic payments at this time. PUD staff are working to fix this issue and appreciate your patience.
Our mission: Serve our community with high value utility services at the lowest practical cost.
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