The Snohomish County PUD will not be raising rates. (Herald file)

The Snohomish County PUD will not be raising rates. (Herald file)

Snohomish County PUD cancels energy rate increase

Electrical costs were set to rise by 1.3 percent in April.

EVERETT — A month before electrical rates were set to rise, the Snohomish County Public Utility District canceled the planned 1.3 percent increase.

The PUD changed course “based on stronger than expected financial results in 2018 and internal cost control measures,” according to a press release.

At the end of 2018, the PUD was left with more in the budget than was originally predicted, due in part to increased energy sales and larger-than-budgeted returns on investments.

“It came through that we had a surplus of roughly $13 million so no increase rate was needed,”said Aaron Swaney, a PUD spokesman.

A focus on controlling internal costs also saved about $4 million in 2018, according to Swaney. That included limiting new hiring, lowering medical benefit premiums, hiring fewer outside consultants and decreasing employee travel.

“Cutting costs internally is one of the reasons there’s not a rate increase,” Swaney said.

In recent years, rate increases generally have been scheduled every other year, according to Swaney. The PUD board has not ruled out increasing rates in 2020.

“Our customer count is climbing dramatically, but electric usage has stayed flat,” Swaney said. “We are getting more customers and building more infrastructure for customers, but our revenue from energy sales has been relatively flat.”

The residential rate will remain at 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

If the rate increase had happened, a household that uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would have paid about $12 more per year starting in April.

The PUD serves about 352,000 electric customers and 20,000 water customers across a service area of 2,200 square miles that includes all of Snohomish County as well as Camano Island in Island County.

In 2019, the PUD expects to add approximately 3,600 new customers.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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