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Commission summary: Budget approved for 2023; rate increase likely

Grant PUD approves $439.7 million budget for 2023

Grant PUD Commissioners unanimously approved the utility's 2023 operating budget during their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

One of the top budgeting priorities was dealing with a projected 8.7% cost impact to the utility. With the inflation factor, and initiatives to increase efficiency and improve services for customers, the projected overall expenses are $439.7 million in 2023 compared to the 2022 adopted expense budget of $397.5 million. After revenues and expense offsets, the utility expects $91.5 million in net income.

Some of the large ongoing capital projects include upgrades to improve power generation efficiency and reliability, dam safety, fiber optic system expansion and expansion of the power delivery system to improve reliability and accommodate for growth in Grant County. For more information, see 2023 Proposed Budget Presentation Materials and hear the discussion starting at 2:31:21 of the audio recording.

Commissioners to consider a 3% overall power price increase

To help deal with inflation, the commission is considering for a 3 percent overall rate increase for retail electric sales in Grant County beginning on April 1, 2023. The specific increase will vary for each rate group depending on Grant PUD's existing rates and the previously estimated costs to serve that customer group. Commissioners are expected to take action on the proposed increases during the Dec. 13 commission meeting.

The increase will mean an additional $3.24 per month for the typical residential customer using 1,700 kilowatt-hours per month. A large industrial customer with an average monthly usage of 20 million kilowatt-hours, would see an increase of approximately $12,600 a month to their bill. Even with the increase, Grant PUD's rates will remain far below the current Washington State and U.S. average price for electricity. Grant PUD's proposed residential rate will be approximately 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour while the Washington average is 10.19 cents per kilowatt hour and the U.S. average is 14.88 cents. (See page 144 for meeting packet for more information. And hear audio recording starting at 2:41:30.

Rates discussed for fast commercial electric vehicle charging

Commissioners also reviewed a proposed rate for Level 3 commercial electric vehicle charge facilities with monthly use of no more than 3,000 kilowatts of billing demand. The proposed rate would have a basic charge of $51.23 per month, an energy charge of 3.454 cents per kilowatt hour and a demand change of $7.69 per kilowatt of billing demand. Each customer in the rate would be required to pay a monthly minimum charge of $435.73 per month if the amount billed for energy consumption was below that amount.

Enterprise Project Management Office adds programs

Julie Pyper, Managing Director, gave an update on the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO). The EPMO has undergone changes in the past few months which include adding the Corrective Action and Continuous Improvement Programs to the EPMO. This change has altered the structure of the department as well as enhanced the overall objective. The new objective is business advancement in three key areas: the EPMO, Operation Excellence and the Enterprise Project Portfolio Management.

The EPMO currently has 38 active projects in all different phases of the project timeline with $53 million spent through October. It is anticipated that they will come in close to budget or slightly below. The key message left with the commission was that the EPMO is focused on creating business value while continuing to mature and improve.

Commissioners receive safety report

Commissioners reviewed the November Safety report with Ron Roth, Senior Safety Coordinator. There was discussion related to the increase, 3.6 from 1.9, in the 12 Month Rolling – Recordable Injury Rate – 2021 vs 2022. Roth noted that the increase was of concern and Safety was looking into various reasons why the indicator is going up. He was also reaching out to other utilities to see if they were experiencing the same issue. Also in the presentation were timely tips for good mental health. Mental Health was the subject of the CXO talking points this month, which Roth noted were very well received.

Commissioners also:

  • Heard from X-energy leadership as they continued ongoing discussions about the potential of Grant PUD constructing a Small Modular Reactor nuclear power plant in Grant County. The discussion provided the commissioners an opportunity for a face-to-face introduction to senior X-energy leadership. Hear audio recording starting at 4:06:13.
  • Approved a change order increasing the not-to-exceed contract amount by $700,000 in its contract for archaeological and historical services with Eastern Washington. (See page 12-15 of commission packet.)
  • Authorized a change order for increasing the not-to-exceed contract amount by $309,799 to USDA APHIS Wildlife Services. (See page 16-37 of commission packet.)
  • Approved a contract with OAC Services for $1.57 million through 2024 to serve as the owner representative for a progressive design-build project for power delivery facilities. (See page 39-119 of commission packet.)
  • Reviewed changes to Rate Schedule 17 Evolving Industry Service that would take effect on Feb. 1, 2023. (See page 131-143 of commission packet.)