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CRPUD reduces expenses for 2014

Adopts slightly smaller budget; next rate increase planned for Oct. 2015

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - The Columbia River Peoples Utility District administrative office in Deer Island.Despite a major capital project to remodel its main office in Deer Island, the Columbia River People's Utility District will have a smaller budget this year than it did in 2013, following a board of directors action Dec. 17.

The board adopted a $32.9 million capital and operating budget, some 1 percent lower than it adopted for 2013. According to a release from the PUD, the budget reduces what it terms “controllable expenses" of $10.3 million by 5.8 percent from last year.

"Our 2014 budget is built around our primary goal of providing safe, reliable and affordable energy. I believe our 2014 budget accomplishes this at a lower cost, despite notable increases in power and transmission expenses," Kevin Owens, the PUD's general manager, said in the release.

The PUD also declared it does not intend to increase electric rates this year, although it said wholesale power costs for 2014 are tracking to be 4.4 percent higher than the current year. The increase is largely due to an October rate hike instituted by the Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies much of western Oregon's electricity.

The next rate increase for the Columbia River PUD is expected to occur October 2015.

The PUD is also continuing to work on certain capital projects this year, including a $710,000 remodeling of its Deer Island headquarters. The project is planned to add 1,825 square feet of office space to better accommodate the utility district's 52 employees.

A new substation serving the Columbia County Fairgrounds west of St. Helens is also slated for completion this year. That project is being funded through cash reserves.

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