PUD to raise rates 2%
Updated: Apr 18
The Public Utility District (PUD) Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing a 2% increase for its electrical customers starting in June of 2021.
District three PUD Commissioner Russ Skolrood released a statement explaining some of the details regarding its difficulty collecting payments from customers. It revealed information about why the 2% was considered (and eventually passed).
The PUD is approaching $1.2 million dollars in past due accounts largely because of a top down approach by Governor Inslee. If the Covid-19 moratorium imposed by the Governor ended today, 2,300 customer's power would be shutoff.
The PUD runs like an enterprise fund, which is a self-supporting fund that sells electricity to the public for a fee. The difficulty in maintaining such a utility fund is that it lacks any diversity in its ability to collect funds. If customers suddenly are allowed to forgo payments to the PUD without recourse, (as was done with the Governor's order) this may endanger the bottom line of the entire operation.
Skolrood, who is also the President of the PUD Commission, expressed his frustration with the actions of the Governor. "I find it even more frustrating that the state moratorium was implemented and extended without any way of dealing with its financial impacts." The moratorium came with no financial assistance to the utility district.
In the statement, the PUD expresses the desire to keep their customers electricity on. That is why many have setup payment plans during Covid-19 related hardships. Some even took advantage of the Cares program that was partnered with by the county.
Skolrood states that "As an elected official, I am a little resentful of being told how we should be supporting our customers. We've been doing it for over 80 years and are certainly capable of continuing that support, especially in times of crisis." He is right, the PUD is literally prepared for disaster and events, so it is natural for them to have safeguards in place to assist customers.
It is a difficult time for Washingtonians. Recently, three (3) counties including Cowlitz, Whitman and Pierce had a major setback as they were moved back to phase 2. This means gyms, restaurants, places of worship and retail stores will have to reduce their capacity once again. This is despite a sudden change in the metrics the state is using to determine these setbacks, all-while other states in the nation are moving in the exact opposite direction.
The Washington State Legislature, controlled by Democrats refuses to put the Governor's Emergency Powers in check by simply including other bi-partisan elected officials in the decision-making process. They have opted to allow the Governor to sit at the steering wheel of the economy, regulation, business, local government and many other industries; alone. Was the Emergency Powers Act ever designed or intended to keep one person in power over all of us for such extended times?
How can local businesses or elected leaders make decisions for our community if they are being hamstrung by a single executive in Olympia?