Cost-of-Service Study Results

Rising Costs of Goods and Services Impact the PUD’s Ability to Supply Reliable Electricity

By Justin Brock

Looking northwest into The Dalles. Photo courtesy of Northern Wasco County PUD

Where the Columbia River takes a distinctive curve lies the community of The Dalles, often described as “the bend in the river” or “the hub of the Gorge.”

Residents of The Dalles, along with others throughout Wasco County, rely on the hydro-based electricity generated along the waterway to keep daily activities flowing smoothly. At the forefront of this essential service is Northern Wasco County People’s Utility District (NWCPUD), a not-for-profit utility that takes pride in delivering power to its customers.

In the face of prevailing economic conditions, NWCPUD remains steadfast in its mission of providing competitively priced energy and related services. To uphold this commitment, the PUD conducted a comprehensive rate review process with a consulting firm in the fall of 2023.

These reviews are normally done every 2 years with a clear objective: complete exhaustive cost-of-service analyses to establish equitable rate structures, ensuring fair allocation of costs among different rate classifications.

Following the evaluation, NWCPUD’s board of directors approved new rate structures at its December meeting. The primary aim was to accurately reflect the true cost of service and achieve cost equity among various rate classifications. The changes are crucial, as NWCPUD faces escalated costs for electric equipment and ongoing investments in modernizing electric infrastructure.

NWCPUD has some of the lowest rates in the region. Residential customers can expect a slight increase in their bills, with a $2 rise in the facility charge and a fractional increase in the energy charge.

Inflation and supply chain delays have significantly affected the electric utility industry. NWCPUD’s proactive approach aims to address these challenges and ensure the continued delivery of safe and reliable power to its customers and the community at large.

The 3.8% electric rate increase, effective May 1, 2024, is a necessary step to ensure NWCPUD maintains financial soundness, meets debt repayment obligations, maintains adequate cash flow, and adheres to system load and reliability standards.

NWCPUD acknowledges the challenges of customer load growth, increased per-customer use, and policies promoting electrification necessitate continual adjustments. In this dynamic landscape, NWCPUD remains dedicated to controlling costs, operating safely and efficiently, and providing reliable electric service to its community. The rate change reflects the utility’s commitment to financial predictability and sustainable service.