Grant PUD commissioners to discuss rates at workshop

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EPHRATA — Grant County PUD commissioners will sponsor a workshop for a comprehensive review of PUD rates ahead of the establishment of 2019 rates in April.

General manager Kevin Nordt asked commissioners about a workshop at the regular meeting Thursday. New commissioners Nelson Cox and Judy Wilson were sworn in Tuesday, and Nordt said in light of that, commissioners might want to review rate policy.

“If we plan to implement any change by April 1, we probably want to leave about four weeks for making sure the (billing) software is ready and tested,” Nordt said. The 2018 budget includes an overall two percent rate increase, but different customer classes may see increases that are bigger or smaller than two percent.

The current rate structure requires that all rate classes should pay at least 80 percent of the cost of providing their electrical service, and not more than 15 percent more than it costs to provide service, by 2024. But new commissioners might mean new directions, Nordt said.

The current budget does include additional money approved by the commission last year to finish the fiber buildout, Nordt said.

“With the two new commissioners, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt me, to at least take four or five hours in a single session and sit down and talk about how the rates are going to be distributed, what the distribution looks like,” said commissioner Dale Walker.

Commissioner Tom Flint said he disagreed with some parts of the current rate structure and hadn’t agreed with them from the beginning. “It probably would be good for us to line-item right through it,” he said.

Nordt said the PUD employees could provide an explanation of the thinking behind the rate decisions, “what is this, how did we interpret it, where did it come from. Then we can walk through the numbers - this is what’s there, this is how we got those numbers.”

Flint said commissioners also should have information on the possible impact on the district’s bond rating if any changes are made. The workshop should be “sooner rather than later,” he said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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