The Snohomish County PUD Board of Commissioners today approved its 2019 budget, which includes a $665 million operating budget for its electric system. The budget also contains a modest 1.3% rate increase, effective April 2019.
PUD staff prevented a larger rate increase through a series of cost control measures, including limiting new hiring, realizing lower medical benefits premiums, use of fewer external consultants and reducing employee travel. The utility has increasingly focused on continual improvement to guide project management, increase productivity and reduce costs.
“The budget reflects our ongoing commitment to our customers, investments to meet future needs and responsible cost and fiscal management,” said Snohomish PUD CEO/General Manager John Haarlow.
The budget will fund $93 million in capital projects for the PUD electric system to maintain reliability for the utility’s 352,000 customer accounts. Projects include construction of new substations and upgrades to existing facilities. The PUD continues to invest in its wood pole and cable replacement program. Funds also are slated for vehicle replacements and design work for a new regional office in Arlington.
The utility incorporated numerous public benefits in its 2019 budget, including:
- Energy efficiency funding of $21.7 million for programs to help customers reduce bills
- Low income discounts of $6.3 million to assist qualifying customers
- Fish & wildlife expenses of $83 million to support efforts on the Columbia River by the Bonneville Power Administration
The PUD budget also includes a $12 million operating budget for its water system, which serves about 20,500 customer accounts in central Snohomish County. The PUD continues to make improvements to the Warm Beach water system, acquired in 2018. This system received low-interest loans and grants from the Washington State Drinking Water Revolving Fund.