Beginning today, June 7, monthly power bills in Yakima County and in many areas of Washington state will spike by $10 or more.
That's because the Washington Utilities and Transporation Commission (UTC) yesterday approved a request by three energy profiders to end the power credit that previously showed up on customer's monthly statements.
The three companies are Puget Sound Energy, Avista and Pacific Power, which services Yakima County, including the Lower Valley.
The companies asked the UTC to allow them to end the monthly credits to their customers because the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) stopped making payments to the utilities.
BPA took the action in response to a recent federal court ruling that the formula BPA used to distribute federal power benefits to customers of northwest private utilities violated federal law.
The benefit appeared as a credit on private electric residential and small-farm utility customers' bills. The private-electric companies have not increased the amount they charge for electricity, but without the federal credit, customers will see higher bills.
"We have no practical alternative to eliminating the billing credit," said Mark Sidran, chairman of the UTC. "The credit is a direct pass-through by the utilities to their customers of a federal benefit they receive from BPA. Since the utilities are receiving no payments from BPA, they have no benefit to pass through."
The commission's actions do not affect public utilities, such as Benton REA.
The three private-electric utilities serve 1.2 million households, representing 45 percent of the residential customers in Washington.
Pacific Power's typical residential bill will increase $11.49 a month, while Avista's average bill will go up $6.69 monthly. Puget Sound Energy customers will see their bills increase by an average of $10.28 a month.
The UTC has joined the utility commissions in Oregon, Idaho and Montana to ask the U.S. Justice Department to allow BPA to seek rehearing of the case.