News Release – 10/26/11

For Information:
Erica Erland, Clark Public Utilities
360-992-3238, eerland@clarkpud.com

CLARK PUBLIC UTILITIES RATES GO UP, OFFSET BY BPA CREDIT, RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER BILLS GO DOWN

VANCOUVER, WA – October 26, 2011 – Clark Public Utilities board of commissioners voted on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 to increase electric rates in Clark County, effective Nov. 1. The average increase across the system is equal to 2.8 percent, accounting for a $9.7 million projected budget shortfall.

Rate increases are as follows, based on a cost of service analysis:

  • Residential: 3.9 percent
  • Commercial: 1 percent
  • Industrial: 1 percent
  • Lighting: 3.9 percent

For each class, both the customer charge and per kilowatt hour charge will increase for a total not to exceed the percentage above. The increase is the result of a rise in BPA rates and the cost of compliance with the Washington State Initiative 937 renewable energy and conservation requirements, effective in 2012.

Offsetting the increase for residential customers is a two-year credit via the Bonneville Power Administration Residential Exchange Program. The credit is greater than the projected rate increase so, while rates will go up, residential customers will see monthly net bills go down by between 2.5 percent.

"This year, 72 percent of our $376 million budget is allocated directly to the purchase of power, and those costs are rising," said Byron Hanke, commission president.

With the BPA rate increase, additional I-937 compliance costs including integrating wind power into our power supply portfolio and an increase in energy conservation investments, and a small rise in operating costs, the total increase in expenses for 2012 equals $30 million. Savings from lower gas prices, potential for economic displacement of River Road Generating Plant, and a reduction in debt payments, however, offset this increase by more than half for a net projected revenue shortfall of less than $10 million.

"We’re fortunate that the staff’s ongoing efforts to keep costs down are resulting in an increase much smaller than those seen in other parts of our region. Still, an increase in the rates we pay to BPA, coupled with the expense of compliance with I-937 makes it necessary that we take steps needed to balance the budget for 2012," said Hanke.

Commercial and Industrial Increases
While commercial and industrial customers are not eligible for the Residential Exchange credit, the rate increases for these classes are lower because it is less expensive to serve the more predictable needs and steady loads of these customers. Commercial and industrial customers will see a rate increase of 1 percent effective November 1, 2011.

About Clark Public Utilities
Clark Public Utilities is a customer-owned public utility that provides electric service to more than 183,000 customers throughout Clark County. The utility also provides water service to about 30,000 homes and businesses in the Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek, Lakeshore, Hockinson, Brush Prairie, La Center, Meadow Glade, Amboy and Yacolt areas.

Clark Public Utilities is proud to be named a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion and is only one of 40 companies so named in the U.S. Additionally, Clark Public Utilities was ranked highest in customer satisfaction among midsize utilities in the west by J.D. Power and Associates in 2008, 2009 and 2010.