Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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New Rate Structure Coming in 2022

Residential Base Charge

The PUD’s Board of Commissioners approved the implementation of a base charge to its residential service rates (Schedule 7) on November 19, 2019, and it was delayed on March 23, 2021, to be implemented starting April 1, 2022. The base charge will be phased in over five years and will be based on customer size.

The implementation of a base charge is not a rate increase. In adding a base charge, the PUD will reduce the energy usage (kWh) charge proportionally over the five years. Impacts to customers’ bills will be minimal, with the average PUD customer experiencing changes of just a few dollars of increase or decrease over the five-year period.

The first phase of the base charge will go into effect April 1, 2022, and increase annually. The amount of the base charge will be based on home size and type. Customers will be categorized as small (multi-family dwellings or small electrical services like garages or well pumps), medium (single-family homes), large (large homes with high energy demands) and extra large (very large homes with multiple structures). The large and extra large categories will apply only to new customers.

All customers will pay either the daily base charge plus the usage charge or the minimum bill charge (53 cents per day), whichever is higher. By April 1, 2026, the minimum daily charge will be eliminated.

  Daily Base Charge Usage Charge
Effective Date Small Medium Large Extra Large Per kWh
October 1, 2017 N/A N/A N/A N/A $0.10414
April 1, 2022 $0.08 $0.10 $0.11 $0.16 $0.10118
April 1, 2023 $0.16 $0.19 $0.22 $0.32 $0.09822
April 1, 2024 $0.24 $0.29 $0.34 $0.48 $0.09527
April 1, 2025 $0.32 $0.38 $0.45 $0.64 $0.09231
April 1, 2026 $0.40 $0.48 $0.56 $0.80 $0.08935

The base charge is revenue-neutral based on our existing customers’ 2018 usage. In future years, it will provide increased revenue and stability for the PUD as new homes, which tend to consume less electricity due to more efficient designs and/or they are gas heated, connect to the electrical system. The base charge will pay for the fixed costs of connecting customers to the grid, including billing, meter maintenance and meter reading.

PUD Monthly Bill Comparison Chart

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Why is the PUD changing its rate structure?

The PUD is proposing a base charge to better align rate recovery with the sources of fixed costs it incurs on behalf of customers, including meter reading and billing. The PUD is the only electric utility in the state of Washington that does not currently have a base charge. The charge will result in more predictable and stable bills for our customers and revenue for the PUD, which will allow the PUD to focus on keeping rates low, minimizing the need for rate increases and freeing up funds for energy-efficiency and low-income programs. 

Is this considered a rate increase?

No. Along with the implementation of a base charge, the PUD will decrease the kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge, resulting in potential cost-savings for existing customers based on their usage. Assuming customers use as much electricity as they did in 2018, the new base charge and decrease to the usage charge will be revenue-neutral for the PUD. Most PUD customers can expect lower winter bills with the institution of a monthly base charge.

What is the impact to the PUD?

In the early years, the PUD’s base charge will be revenue neutral. In future years, as the PUD’s customer count grows, the PUD’s rate design will provide increased revenue from the additional customers. The charge will result in more predictable and stable revenue for the PUD, which will allow the PUD to focus on keeping rates low, minimizing the need for rate increases and increasing funds for energy-efficiency and income-qualified programs.

Will the change impact my monthly bill?

Yes. A base charge will result in less disparity between summer and winter bills. Most customers will see their winter bills decrease slightly and their summer bills increase slightly; however, over the course of a year, the average customer will see only modest changes in the amount he/she pays.

How is this different than the minimum bill charge?

Customers are charged the minimum charge of 53 cents per day only if it is greater than the month’s kWh usage charge. The daily base charge is applied in addition to the month’s total kWh usage charge. The minimum daily charge will be discontinued as of April 1, 2026.

What is the difference between a base charge and volumetric charge?

A base charge is a fixed amount charged to a customer’s bill once per month and does not change depending upon electricity use. A volumetric charge is electricity costs that vary due to electricity use. The more electricity, or kilowatt hours, used, the higher the volumetric charge.

Is this just the beginning? Will the base charge go up in the future?

The base charge will begin at $0.08 per day ($2.24 to $2.56 per billing cycle) for small customers and $0.10 per day ($2.80 to $3.20 per billing cycle) for medium customers on April 1, 2022. The base charge will increase in equal steps over five years while the energy usage charge is reduced. New customer base charges in the large ($21) and extra-large ($27) categories will also be phased in over five years. Currently the PUD has no plans to increase the base charge beyond 2026.

How do I know what size of customer I am?

The customer base charge will be based on service panel sizes (in amps) and home type. Small customers are those who live in multi-family homes like apartments and condominiums, while medium customers are customers living in single-family homes. The monthly base charge for large (201 up to 400 amps) and extra-large (400 amps and above) service panels will only apply to new customers. For customers who have a second meter for a garage, barn or other outbuilding, this meter will likely incur an additional small base charge.

Why did the PUD institute a base charge now?

As electricity usage patterns have changed, electric utilities have altered the way they recoup costs associated with building and maintaining the electric grid. In the past few years, the PUD has seen its customer count grow, while the total amount of electricity usage has remained flat. This has put the PUD in the unsustainable situation of serving thousands of additional customers each year without selling any additional electricity to pay for it. Utilities have instituted base charges to ensure all customers pay the appropriate amount for costs associated with metering, billing and connecting to the grid.

Why did the PUD phase this charge in over five years?

Phasing in the base charge over five years will minimize the impact to customers’ bills.

Why did the PUD use amperage to classify its new base charge?

The PUD was founded on the principle of providing electricity to the entire county at cost-based rates that are fair and reasonable. Higher amperages require more expensive meters, heavier gauge wires and larger transformers. A fixed charge based on amperage helps better apportion costs associated with the ongoing cost of maintaining each customer's connection to the grid.

Customers will be categorized according to amperage as seen below:

  • Small (100 amps or less and all multifamily)
  • Medium (101-200 amps)
  • Large (201-400 amps)
  • Extra large (>400 amps)
How will this affect the PUD’s income-qualified customers?

Many of the PUD’s income-qualified customers live in older homes with inefficient heating, so on average, the PUD’s income-qualified customers have higher-than-average consumption. Implementation of a base charge and decrease in the usage charge will actually lower their annual power costs on average.

I have invested in solar panels to save energy. Why should I have to pay a base charge?

Net-metering customers, or customers who generate their own electricity, are still connected to the grid. Because the PUD still incurs fixed costs associated with reading and maintaining meters and other equipment linked to basic service to solar customers, a fixed base charge for net-metering customers ensures the PUD can recoup costs associated with connection. Many of these customers are already impacted by the minimum bill charge, which is expected to be retired in 2026.

Doesn’t a base charge discourage energy-efficiency measures?

Though the volumetric charge decreases with the implementation of a base charge, it is still enough to motivate customers to want to conserve electricity in order to decrease their bill. Also, implementation of a base charge will result in increased stability to rates, allowing the PUD to invest more money in conservation programs such as our popular rebates on energy-efficient appliances.

Does anyone not have to pay the base charge?

The PUD has no plans to exclude any customers from the base charge at this time.

How does this affect commercial and industrial customers?

The PUD’s commercial and industrial customers already pay a base charge and some even pay a demand charge under certain rate structures. There will be changes to these rate schedules as well.

Where can I find more information?

You can view our rate schedules.