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New residential rate structure in 2022

Residential base charge added

The PUD’s Board of Commissioners approved the implementation of a base charge to its residential electric service rates (Schedule 7) on November 19, 2019. After being delayed on March 23, 2021, due to the pandemic, it is scheduled to be implemented April 1, 2022.

The increase and rate structure change was needed to:
  • Address increasing costs
  • Fund critical infrastructure improvements that increase safety and reliability
  • Support environmentally sustainable power
  • Ensure stability for the utility as customer demands and use patterns change

For residential customers, the addition of the base charge serves as the general rate increase that PUD Commissioners approved in December.

The base charge applies per meter and is based on the type of building that is served and the amperage rating of the customer’s primary fuse box or breaker panel.

The energy usage (kWh) charge will not increase this year and remains at 10.47* cents/kWh.

The base charge is scheduled to increase incrementally over the next four years. In the future, the increase of the base charge is planned to coincide with a proportional reduction in the energy usage (kWh) charge. Because of that, impacts to customers’ bills will be minimal, with the typical PUD customer experiencing changes of just a few dollars of increase or decrease per month spread out over the four-year period.

The amount of the base charge will be based on home size and type. Customers are 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 applies only to new customers connected on or after April 1, 2022.

All customers 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.

The changes to the base charge are designed to be revenue-neutral based on our existing customers’ usage and are not intended to raise additional revenue for the PUD. It provides increased stability for the PUD as new homes, which tend to consume less electricity due to more efficient designs and/or they are gas-heated and thus pay lower electric bills, connect to the electrical system. The base charge will pay for the fixed costs of connecting customers to the grid, including billing and meter maintenance.

*PUD customers actual rate is 10.25 cents/kWh after the BPA Residential Exchange Credit is applied.

PUD Bill Comparison Chart January 2022

Sample PUD bill with new base charge:

Sample residential bill with base charge

Base charge

Eff. Date Small ($/day) Medium Large Extra Large Minimum Bill All kWh ($/kWh)
Today's Rates NA NA NA NA $0.53 $0.10470
4/1/22 $0.08 $0.10 $0.11 $0.16 $0.53 $0.10470
4/1/23 $0.16 $0.19 $0.22 $0.32 $0.53 $0.10174
4/1/24 $0.24 $0.29 $0.34 $0.48 $0.53 $0.09878
4/1/25 $0.32 $0.38 $0.45 $0.64 $0.53 $0.09583
4/1/26 $0.40 $0.48 $0.56 $0.80 NA $0.09287

Frequently asked questions

Why is the PUD changing its rate structure?

The PUD’s base charge is designed to better align rate recovery with the sources of fixed costs it incurs on behalf of customers, including meter maintenance 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?

In 2022, the base charge will serve as the general rate increase approved by the PUD’s Board of Commissioners in 2021. The energy usage charge for residential customers will remain 10.47 cents/kWh. Over the next four years, starting in April 2023, the implementation of a base charge is scheduled to increase incrementally and will coincide with a decrease in the kilowatt-hour (kWh) charge. This will result 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.

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 combination of the month’s base charge and 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 energy usage 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. The energy usage, or volumetric, charge is electricity costs that vary due to electricity use. The more electricity, or kilowatt hours, used, the higher the energy usage 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 is scheduled to increase in equal steps over five years while the energy usage charge is reduced in proportion. New customer base charges in the large ($21) and extra-large ($27) categories will only apply to customers connected on or after April 1, 2022 and 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)

Extra meters at a residence that serve things like garages and well pumps are considered “small.”

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 energy usage 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/industrial and water customers?

The PUD’s commercial/industrial and water 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.