PUD rate increase may be bigger

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EPHRATA - Grant County PUD commissioners may raise rates beyond the planned 4 percent next year.

The issue is slated for discussion during their 1 p.m. commission meeting Monday in Ephrata.

Possible increases vary, with talks of increases between 4 percent and 14 percent, said Sarah Morford, a commission spokesperson.

Increases shown in a preliminary draft analysis show a 7 percent to 12. 5 percent increase in 2011, peaking to 14 percent in 2012.

How the increase looks by rate category hasn't been finalized.

Staff is recommending the increase be higher than 4 percent, she said.

Contributing factors include two below-average water years, meaning less power is produced for sale at the PUD's dams. Fewer sales resulted in a decline in revenue.

No presentations are planned at Monday's meeting, rather it is more of a regrouping and time to pick an option, she explained.

The following items were being discussed for budget reductions or deferment:

• Across the board reductions to operations and maintenance

• Timing of capital expenditures

• 16 fewer employees

• $1.015 million reduction in labor

• No wage increases

• No travel/training

• No new vehicle purchases

• Minimal facilities updates

• Some trade association withdrawals

• No new fiber build-out

It's still not known how much will be spent for fiber, she said.

If there was a new build out, a rate increase would need to be higher than between 8 and 10 percent, she said.

The PUD's proposed 2011 budget is $479.6 million, which shows a deficit of $4 million compared to last year.

Rate increases wouldn't start until April 1.

The PUD's Ephrata office is located at 30 C St. SW, Ephrata.

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