The Grays Harbor PUD Board of Commissioners approved the budget for 2018 and an increase in rates is coming to residents.
According to the PUD the $123.3 million spending plan was passed unanimously by the board during their Nov. 20th meeting.
They say the budget includes $8.2 million in capital expenses, or renewal and replacement of the utility system infrastructure and the largest portion of spending is $69.8-million in power costs.
Those power costs represent 57% of the utility budget.
The PUD says a projected 5.4% increase in Bonneville Power Administration costs means the utility will increase rates beginning in April.
“At this point we are planning a three-percent increase,” says General Manager Dave Ward. “However, by waiting to implement it we allow ourselves time to monitor factors like temperatures and load growth which may reduce the size of the increase.”
The utility will see some savings due to a reworking of their contract to purchase surplus power from Sierra Pacific Industries.
“This budget is about stability,” says PUD Commission President Arie Callaghan. “Our staff has put together a plan that puts the emphasis on maintaining the strength, safety and reliability of the PUD system and service and finding a practical cost which makes that mission possible. I believe the budget we passed does that.”
At the end of the year, the PUD anticipates an ending fund reserve of $7.9-million which they say is below district goals, but is moving in the right direction.
“Sound practice says we would maintain a minimum three month reserve,” said Ward. “When you consider that it costs roughly $10-million a month to operate the utility, you can see we are well short of that goal, but I feel that continued conservative financial planning will allow the utility to maintain a solid financial base.”
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