CRPUD Board Adopts $38.8 Million Operating & Capital Budget for 2018
December 20, 2017 – During their December 19 meeting, the Columbia River PUD Board of Directors unanimously approved a $38.8 million Operating and Capital Budget for 2018. Rates will remain stable, with no increases planned in 2018.
“The 2018 Budget was a collaborative effort between Staff, the Board, and the Budget Advisory Committee. We continue to maintain focus on providing reliable and affordable service to our customers,” said General Manager John Nguyen.
Net Power Costs and Controllable Expenses Expected to Rise
Net power costs are expected to be $20.7 million, or 53% of the PUD’s budget. This is an increase of $1.3 million, or 7% above the 2017 Budget. The increase is a result of a wholesale power cost increase from Bonneville Power Administration, and a slight increase in projected energy sales.
Controllable expenses are projected to be $13.7 million. This is an increase of $2.3 million, or 20% over the 2017 Budget. A large portion of this increase is the result of $305,000 in cash reserves used to limit the October 2017 rate increase to 5.1% system-wide, and $1.5 million used to construct the new Betsy Johnson Substation.
Betsy Johnson Substation to be Energized in October
The design and construction of the Betsy Johnson Substation in Scappoose is the largest capital project planned in 2018. The new substation will accommodate load growth in the Scappoose area and will ensure the PUD can continue to provide reliable service to Scappoose customers.
The substation accounts for approximately 40% of the $3.59 million earmarked in the Budget for system improvements.
The Betsy Johnson Substation is scheduled to be operational by October of 2018.
Other System Improvements Planned
The PUD will continue to fund other capital projects designed to improve the safety, security, reliability, and capacity of its electric distribution system.
Major projects planned for 2018 include upgrading power lines on East Columbia Blvd. in Scappoose, and converting power lines from overhead to underground in five locations:
- Merrill Creek Road
- Bedell Road
- Meissner Road
- Anliker Road to Janshaw Road
- East Kappler Road to Robinette Road
Moving power lines underground will help prevent storm-related outages, reduce long-term maintenance costs, and eliminate the need for tree trimming.
Year-End Cash Balance
The PUD forecasts ending 2017 with a $9.73 million cash balance. This is an increase of $1.57 million from the 2017 Budget. This increase will allow the PUD to draw on cash reserves to fund capital projects and stabilize rates in 2018.
Using cash keeps the utility from accruing debt, which helps keep rates lower for customers. As a result, no rate increase is planned in 2018.
The 2018 year-end cash balance is projected to be $8.04 million.
“The staff has worked very hard to control expenses and to build up our cash reserves. Being able to use cash to offset costs in 2018 is good news for our customers,” said Board President Jake Carter.