Columbia River PUD Board Approves $30.1 Million Budget for 2009, Plans No Increase in Rates

December 17, 2008 – At their December 16th meeting, Columbia River People’s Utility District’s Board of Directors approved a $30.1 million Operating and Capital budget for 2009 – a decrease of 5.4% from 2008 budget levels. The budget included these major goals:

  • Keep electric rates stable
  • Maintain core operations and services to customers
  • Increase cash reserves for future power supply opportunities, capital projects and mitigation of future rate impacts

The approved budget includes a projected 8% decrease in revenues from the industrial customer class resulting from the closure of Boise Veneer and a recently announced reduction in operations at the Boise paper mill in St. Helens. Although the PUD does not serve the paper mill, reduced operations at the mill are predicted to have a cascading affect on other customers and the local economy.

The PUD will continue to maintain full funding for core operations and services, including distribution system maintenance and improvements, tree trimming, energy efficiency programs, and customer service functions. An expanded $633,000 tree trimming budget will allow two tree trimming crews to work year-round.

“Our customers have high expectations for a safe, reliable electric system and excellent customer service,” said PUD General Manager Kevin P. Owens. “We are pleased to be able to meet their expectations without raising rates. That was clearly our goal as we began the budget process in August. We were very successful in delivering this 2009 in the budget.”

The PUD plans to spend $3.2 million on capital projects and equipment in 2009. This includes $656,000 on four projects to increase the capacity of the distribution lines along Old Portland and Callahan Roads in Scappoose, Canaan Road in Deer Island and at Jack Falls Road and Highway 30 near Rainier.

Other projects include upgrading security and monitoring systems at substations and upgrading circuit switchers and voltage regulators to improve reliability.

The 2009 budget also includes a projected increase of $1 million to cash reserves. This reserve provides contingency funds for storms and natural disasters, future power supply opportunities, mitigating rate increases and long-term capital construction projects.

Each year the PUD convenes a budget advisory committee to advise the Board on the proposed budget. The 2009 Budget Committee, comprised of 10 customers representing residential, business, governmental, industrial, seniors and low income customer classes, met twice in November to review and discuss the Budget.

“It is important for staff and the Board to receive outside review and input on the budget process to keep us focused on what is important to our customers,” said PUD Board President Dick Simpson. “The Budget Committee’s efforts and commitment are greatly appreciated.”