Grant PUD finishes 2018 with surplus

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EPHRATA — The Grant County PUD finished 2018 with $89,852,900 in net income. Utility district officials gave a preliminary report on the district’s 2018 finances at the March 12 PUD commission meeting.

The district’s books still must be reviewed by its auditors, said senior finance manager Bonnie Overfield. That’s expected to be completed by mid-April.

But the preliminary review shows the PUD hit most of its budget targets. The utility made more money in 2018 than 2017, finishing the year with $311.27 million in operating income, about 5.8 percent more than 2017. But the PUD is using more and more of its share of the power produced at Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams, which means the amount sold to other utilities that share in the project is dropping, Overfield said.

The fiber optic program grew also, with $8.26 million in revenue. That was due to expansion and more people hooking up to the fiber system.

The utility’s expenses also grew, however. In addition, the PUD is working on a two-decade project to upgrade turbines and generators at both of its facilities. Along with the cost of construction on those projects, the project changes how the PUD accounts for its assets, Overfield said. Total expenses for 2018 were $202.78 million, which was $3.91 million more than 2017.

The “total cash position,” cash in the bank plus investments, was $542.1 million, about $28.4 million less than the end of 2017, Overfield said. The PUD was spending more of its money to pay for expenses rather than issuing bonds, she said.

The amount of cash on hand beat the 2018 target, however. The PUD also exceeded the target for the amount of debt in relation to its assets.

The utility also set targets for reliability. The goal was to provide electricity 99.97 percent of the time, and they beat that target, providing electricity 99.99 percent of the time. The average time power wasn’t available was 115 minutes, better than the PUD’s target of 150 minutes.

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