Proposed 2019 Electric Retail Rates FAQs
How much is the proposed increase? RES is recommending increasing its electric utility rates 8% due to a revenue deficit based on its latest cost of service analysis (COSA). The proposed increase is for all customer classes effective June 1, 2019. If City Council approves the rates, they will be effective with the first utility bill customers receive in June 2019 and apply to all electrical services for the billing period.
Even with the increase, Richland Energy Services (RES) rates will remain some of the lowest in Washington. See the NW Electric Rates Comparison at ci.richland.wa.us/EnergyServices.
How will the proposed rates affect a residential customer? For an average residential customer, the increase will be approximately $8.40 per month with the average bill projected to increase from $105.20 to $113.60. This example is for illustrative purposes. Customers’ bills will vary due to metered energy use and number of days in the billing cycle.
The residential energy charge will increase from $0.0686 per kWh to $0.0741 per kWh. The residential daily service charge will increase from $0.64 to $0.69, or from $19.20 to $20.74 per month based on a 30 day billing cycle.
Why is a rate increase necessary? The proposed rate increase is needed due to an 8% rate revenue deficit due primarily to higher wholesale power costs. Wholesale power is RES’ most significant operating expense, comprising over 60% of expenses. RES purchases its wholesale power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and BPA is implementing an increase effective October 1, 2019.
Why have power costs increased? RES wholesale power costs are dependent on the terms of long-term power and transmission contracts with BPA. BPA’s wholesale power costs for RES have increased due to upgrades needed for aging infrastructure, improvements necessary to integrate renewable resources, decreasing customer energy consumption, lower market prices for sales of BPA’s surplus power, and increasing regulatory requirements primarily related to fish protection.
When can i provide comments to the City Council about the rates? There will be a public hearing at the City Council meeting on March 5, and customers can comment at that time or provide written comments any time prior to the March 5 public hearing. Written comments can be submitted to Sandi Edgemon by email at email@example.com or mail to 505 Swift Blvd, MS-21, Richland, WA 99352. Council will consider approving the proposed rates at its regular meeting on March 5. Council meetings are at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall, 505 Swift Blvd. and open to the public. Council agendas are subject to change, so check the City’s Meetings Agenda webpage for updates.
Will you still be offering a discount for low-income seniors and disabled customers? Yes, under the proposed rates, qualifying customers will pay no daily service charge – a $21 savings per month based on a 30 day billing cycle – and receive a 15% discount on energy.
The City has deferred, no-interest housing rehabilitation programs for low and moderate income homeowners to correct health and safety issues or improve the livability of their home by providing energy-efficiency and weatherization upgrades. Visit ci.richland.wa.us/departments/community-development-services/housing-assistance for more information.
Also, low-income customers can participate in RES’ Low-Income Energy Efficiency Program. Learn more at ci.richland.wa.us/EnergyServices.
Will there be another increase in 2020? We continue to analyze our cost of service and revenue requirements including projecting possible rate changes for several years in the future. Based on our current projections another increase likely will be necessary sometime in 2021. Many things affect revenue including wholesale power costs, investment in capital infrastructure, and minimum reserves to be ready for things beyond our control such as weather and customer loads. Each future increase proposed by RES staff will be discussed by the Utility Advisory Committee and considered for approval by City Council prior to taking effect. Stay informed by visiting our website and following the City on Facebook and Twitter.
What is RES doing to keep rates as low as possible in the future? Our priorities are to operate safely and provide reliable service at the lowest reasonable cost. We continue to use new technology and cost-effective business practices to minimize rate impacts to customers. We, like you, are paying higher costs for products and services including our greatest expense -- wholesale power. In addition, investing in new and maintaining the existing electrical infrastructure is necessary to continue providing the reliable service customers need.
Where can I get more information about the proposed 2019 electric rates and learn how to reduce my bill? Visit website at www.ci.richland.wa.us/energyservices and follow the City on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated and learn ways to reduce your electric bill by being more energy efficient.
Whom can I contact if I have additional questions about the electric rates?
Elena Manzo - firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 942-7401
Members of the media can contact:
Sandi Edgemon - email@example.com or (509) 942-7613