Chelan PUD Planning To Bypass Federal Ratemaking Program
The public is invited to weigh in on Chelan PUD's intention not to establish rates of payment for customers in two areas.
The PUD wants to put off ratemaking for customers who agree to use less power during peak demand and delay the formulation of charges for electric vehicle charging programs.
PUD Energy Development and Conservation Manager Andrew Grassell says the utility should leave its options open.
"Not adopting the standards does not prevent the board from acting on them or any other actions at some later date," said Grassell. "And by not adopting now, the board retains flexibility to consider standards in the future when staff learns more."
He says the utility needs to gather more information before considering the rates.
"We have some studies going on," Grassell said. "That information will be useful and beneficial as the board considers future programs and future directions.
Residents are encouraged to offer their thoughts on the PUD's plan between now and September 18th when a public hearing on the matter will be held.
The PUD is adopting its proposal in response to a federal mandate.
The federal Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA) was amended in 2021 to require utilities to consider standards on ratemaking and EV programs. The requirement was imposed under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Grassell made a presentation to PUD commissioners at their meeting this week.
He brought up several steps the PUD has already taken to promote affordable electric vehicle charging options and improve the customer experience associated with electric vehicle charging.
Grassel said the utility's low electric rates already provide affordable and equitable charging options. Charging at home costs $.30/gallon equivalent.
Further, he said the PUD is participating in the WA State Clean Fuels program which will provide non-ratepayer funding for projects and programs that support charging options.
In addition, Grassell said the PUD has upgraded its website to assist customers with EV related questions.
Also, PUD Staff do not believe the utility should get directly involved in electric vehicle fast charging services.
For one thing, they contend that data shows current fast chargers are not fully utilized and there are existing independent fast charging operations in the county.
The staff also believes the PUD's participation in the Washington Clean Fuels program may provide an opportunity to support customers wanting to invest in vehicle electrification infrastructure.
As for ratemaking for customers who agree to use less power during peak demand, the effort as referred to as Demand-Response.
Staff believes the PUD already has the authority to promote demand response activities and they're currently evaluating demand response and demand flexibility practices and programs. Grassell said voluntary programs will be made available to customers as they make economic sense.
In addition, the PUD currently offers a time-of-use rate for its Schedule 30 industrial customers. Grassell said if it makes economic sense, the District can consider offering alternative rate mechanisms in the future to the rest of their customers.
The PUD's Public Notice and Comment Period on its proposal to bypass the establishment of rates ends on September 18, when a public hearing will be held on the topic at the PUD commissioners meeting.
Staff members will present a resolution on moving forward to commissioners on October 2, well before the PUD is required to respond to the federal government on its plans by November 15.