Revised PUD application fees proposed for industrial customers

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald Shane Lunderville of the Grant County PUD detailed changes in the application process and fees at the regular commission meeting Tuesday.

EPHRATA — Revisions to the application process – and application fees – for Grant County PUD industrial customers could go into effect in August. Shane Lunderville of the PUD detailed the proposal at the regular commission meeting Tuesday.

A review of the application process was part of a larger review of the whole rate structure, prompted, among other things, by a flood of service requests. Many were tied into the new field of cryptocurrency. Utility district employees have proposed a new rate class, “emerging industries,” for qualifying businesses.

Action on some new applications has been delayed while the review was underway. The goal is to have the changes in place by August.

Lunderville said the review showed the current system wasn’t allowing the PUD to get back its costs. Utility district employees were spending time and money working on projects that didn’t come to fruition, and the current system wasn’t flexible enough to change as projects changed.

The new plan will have two different application classes, one for general customers and one for emerging industries. The revised fee schedule will be based on recovering the cost of the whole planning process, including planning as well as construction, Lunderville said.

Customers will be divided by how much power they use, starting with one-half megawatt and going up from there. The way power is supplied will make a difference too. Businesses that use between two and 10 megawatts will get power from the existing system. Businesses using more than 10MW will require one or more of their own substations.

All of that will have an effect on application fees, Lunderville said. Application fees will be non-refundable; the first half will be due when the application is submitted.

The proposed fee ranges between $2,500 for customers using one-half to two megawatts, up to $21,000 for companies using more than 40 megawatts. The application fee is only one part of the cost – potential customers also have to pay for construction, if necessary, planning and getting the power lines to the business.

Grant County port districts will have the opportunity to build a substation, even they don’t have customers for it yet. Utility district officials will be working with port districts and the Grant County Economic Development Council to help new customers navigate the system.

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