For an average residential customer, this will result in an increase of about $3.00 per month, from $116 to $119. The median monthly residential bill for comparable Northwest utilities is $127.
The residential daily system charge will increase from 62 cents per day to 63 cents per day, and the residential kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate will increase from $0.0718 to $0.0739.
The major driver of the rate increase is rising power costs, which make up over 60 percent of Benton PUD’s budget. Power costs are increasing due to the following:
- An October 1, 2019 increase in the rates Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) charges utilities.
- A decrease in the amount of hydro-electric generation received under contracts with BPA due to a trend of lower water flows in the summer and court-ordered spill (water releases) over the dams to enable juvenile fish migration. This results in Benton PUD having to buy higher-priced power from the market during peak summer usage periods.
- An increase in requirements under the Energy Independence Act to purchase 15 percent (up from 9 percent in 2019) of qualifying renewable energy (wind and solar) which adds to overall power costs.
For other customer classes, the 2.9 percent increase will apply to all rate components including daily system charge, kilowatt-hour rate, and demand charge (where applicable). The Unmetered rate class (less than 1 percent of total customers) will see a slightly higher increase to better align rates with the cost to serve the class.