Benton PUD announces no rate increase in April

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The Benton PUD Commission decided not to increase rates in April. Benton PUD was considering an average rate increase of 1.5 percent, effective April 1, 2013.

The 2012 year-end financial results for Benton PUD were better than expected. Non-power operation and maintenance, power supply, and capital costs were below budget and unrestricted reserves were higher than forecast. The lower costs coupled with the ability to use $5.9 million from reserves enable Benton PUD to postpone the rate increase.

Benton PUD’s financial forecasts had shown a need for an average 4.9% increase in rates in 2013; however, the increase was going to be partially offset by using cash reserves, bringing the increase down to 1.5%.

The need for a rate adjustment is attributed to increased power and capital costs. Power cost increases are primarily due to BPA wholesale rate increases, and the legal mandates to purchase renewable resources and additional conservation. The increase in capital costs are for planned replacement of aging infrastructure, system improvements to serve the steady growth in Benton PUD’s service area, and continued improvements made for reliability.

Benton PUD serves 49,000 customers in Kennewick, Finley, Benton City, Prosser and surrounding areas.