The Snohomish County PUD Board of Commissioners earlier this week approved a general rate increase for all residential and commercial electric customers.
For residential customers, the addition of a small base charge will serve as the rate increase that was included in the general budget approved by the board in December. The rate increase is the first for the PUD since 2017.
“This rate increase is required to address increasing costs and significant investments in infrastructure and service modernization,” said PUD GM/CEO John Haarlow. “This will allow us to fund critical capital projects that will help us continue our mission of providing our customers with safe, reliable and environmentally sustainable power.”
The base charge is scheduled to go into effect on April 1, 2022. The board originally approved the implementation of a base charge in 2019 and delayed its implementation in 2021 due to the pandemic.
The base charge will apply per meter and be based on the type of building that is served and the amperage rating of the customer’s primary fuse box or breaker panel. The energy usage (per kilowatt hour or kWh) charge will not increase this year and remains at 10.47 cents/kWh. PUD customers’ actual rate is 10.25 cents/kWh after the BPA Residential Exchange Credit is applied.
According to the PUD, the base charge is scheduled to increase incrementally over the next four years. In the future, the increase of the base charge is planned to coincide with a proportional reduction in the energy usage (per kilowatt hour or kWh) charge. Because of that, impacts to customers’ bills will be minimal, with the typical PUD customer experiencing changes of a few dollars of increase or decrease per month spread out over the four-year period, the utility said.
The amount of the base charge will be based on home size and type. Customers will be categorized as:
- small (multi-family dwellings or small electrical services like garages or well pumps),
- medium (single-family homes),
- large (large homes with high energy demands) and
- extra large (very large homes with multiple structures).
The large and extra-large categories will apply only to new customers connected on or after April 1, 2022.
All customers will pay either the daily base charge plus the usage charge or the minimum bill charge (53 cents per day), whichever is higher. By April 1, 2026, the minimum daily charge will be eliminated.
The base charge will apply per meter and be based on the type of building that is served and amperage rating of the primary fuse box or breaker panel. Most single-family homes will be classified as medium and will be charged 10 cents per day, or approximately $3/month. For multi-family units like apartments and duplexes and single-family homes with panels or breaker boxes rated for 100 amps or less, a charge of 8 cents/day or approximately $2.40 per month will apply.
The future changes to the base charge are designed to be revenue-neutral based on existing customers’ usage and are not intended to raise additional revenue for the PUD, the utility said. It added that the rate change will provide increased stability for the PUD as new homes — which tend to consume less electricity due to more efficient designs and/or they are gas heated and thus pay lower electric bills — connect to the electrical system. The base charge will pay for the fixed costs of connecting customers to the grid, including billing and meter maintenance.
Residential electric customers’ bills will not increase more than $3 per month due to the base charge. PUD commercial and industrial and water customers currently pay a base charge.
For more information on the new base charge, visit snopud.com/rate structure.