Perhaps the toughest decision our board makes is to increase rates. Over the past six years, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has increased its rates 28.7%. Yet, knowing we had customers who were struggling financially during the economic downturn, Central Lincoln did not raise its rates in tandem with the BPA.
Instead, we have done what we can to cut costs, including closing three satellite offices, eliminating jobs through attrition, and moving line crews to four-day work weeks to reduce fuel costs taking advantage of longer daylight hours in the spring, summer, and fall.
Unfortunately, our operating costs have continued to rise, and Central Lincoln’s board has approved a general rate increase of 5%. Our average residential customer uses about 969 kWh every month. Combined with a $1 increase in our Facilities Charge, an average residential customer will see a monthly increase of about $4.39.
“We do not raise rates lightly,” says Central Lincoln’s Board Chair Ron Benfield. “We have been holding down costs as much as possible, but found a rate increase to be necessary. However, even with this increase, our rates are in the bottom third among electric utilities in Oregon.”