Power rates won’t change in 2021 — the fourth straight year the cost of electricity will stay the same for Snohomish County PUD ratepayers.
The Snohomish County PUD Board of Commissioners approved the 2021 budget Dec. 17, leaving rates stable in the next year.
“This past year has been a challenge for many of our customers, and I’m glad that we’re able to deliver on our promise to bring affordable power to those we serve,” the utility's GM/CEO John Haarlow said. “It’s a credit to our staff who continue to work hard to keep costs down and find new and innovative ways to operate the business more efficiently.”
However, PUD rates could be adjusted in October once the Bonneville Power Administration incorporates its rates and credits that pass-through to PUD customers. This adjustment is expected to be at or below inflation overall, with the potential for flat to decreased rates for PUD residential customers, according to Snohomish PUD officials. The BPA decision is expected in July.
The PUD’s residential electric rate remains at 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, keeping it competitive with other Northwest electric utility rates and below the national average of 12.95 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The utility forecasts 2021 energy retail sales to be down $5 million from 2020 due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said in a news release. Since March, the PUD’s commercial and industrial sales are down about 6%, while residential sales are up about the same due to workers and students spending more time at home, officials said.
In addition to general cost-cutting measures, increased efficiencies and revamped priorities for select capital projects, the PUD also reduced costs by cutting staff travel, delaying or removing some vacant positions and shifting training online, PUD officials said. The result is a 2021 operating budget that remained flat from this year at $660 million.
The 2021 budget does call for continued maintenance and upgrades to aging poles, lines and transformers, as well as to equipment at the PUD’s five hydroelectric plants.
The PUD is in the midst of building the Twin City substation in Stanwood, which is scheduled to be complete in August 2021 and increase power reliability in the area, officials said. The new substation, south of Pioneer Highway near 72nd Avenue, replaces an aging site in the floodplain in downtown Stanwood.
In addition, PUD water customers will also see no rate increase in 2021.