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CRPUD approves electricity rate increase

The Columbia River People’s Utility District board of directors approved electricity rate increases Tuesday, Aug. 20, at a public meeting.

The increase will appear on customer bills beginning Oct. 1.

The percentage of the rate increase will vary depending on customers’ electricity consumption and rate class. Residential customers will see an average rate increase of 4.8 percent, small general service customers will see an increase of 3.8 percent and large industrial customers will see an increase of 5.3 percent.

The rate increases are a result of an increase in regional power costs. Recently, the Bonneville Power Administration notified CRPUD that its wholesale power costs will rise by 7.8 percent in October.

Although the wholesale power cost increase is lower than the average for public utilities in Oregon, Libby Calnon, communication specialist at CRPUD, said the rate is higher than the 6.5 percent increase CRPUD anticipated based on 2011 reviews.

“We know our rates from BPA will remain the same from Oct. 1 to the end of September 2015, so it’s a two-year rate change,” Calnon said. “In early 2015, we’ll do another cost analysis.”

Calnon said rates have been relatively stable for the past two decades.

“The [4 percent] rate increase we had in 2011 was the first in 10 years,” she said. “In 2006, the rate adjustment was a decrease.”

“Careful planning and the use of our rate stabilization fund allowed us to limit the impact on our customers and keep the rate increase as small as possible,” said CRPUD board President Richard Simpson in a press release. “We expect these new rates to be in effect until September 2015.”

Over the past four years, CRPUD’s power costs have increased 24 percent. Even still, once the rate increase takes effect, CRPUD customers’ rates will still be about 25 percent lower than average rates across Oregon, according to the utility.