Wanapum, Priest Rapids rehab projects contribute to Grant PUD rate increase

Wanapum Dam

Ongoing repairs and upgrades to the Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams will translate to slightly higher rates for ratepayers, according to the Grant County Public Utilities District.

The utility's commissioners adopted a US$254.6 million budget for 2015 following three public hearings this past week, representing an increase from $247.4 million in 2014. Grant PUD's actual budget for 2014 is already $269.1 million due to costs associated with continuing repairs to Wanapum Dam.

The company was forced to provide a series of repairs to Wanapum after a 65-foot-long by 2-inch-wide horizontal crack was discovered in the structure's pier monolith No. 4 earlier this year.

"Our staff moved us through one of our most challenging years as a utility by responding to the Wanapum spillway fracture," Grant PUD commission president Bob Bernd said. "They have responded well in terms of finding a long-lasting engineering solution and maintaining a strong financial position for generations to come."

The new budget calls for rates to increase anywhere between 0.5% and 5% depending on which class a customer falls into, though the utility said the raise should translate to about $2 per month for an average household, based on 1,800 kWh of consumption.

Other significant items included in the budget are:

  • Generator replacements at the 1,038-MW Wanapum hydropower plant;
  • Turbine and generator replacement work at 912-MW Priest Rapids;
  • Recreation improvements;
  • Electric system reliability improvements; and
  • Columbia River fish passage enhancements.

"This budget and subsequent rate increase keeps us on track toward long-term, low-cost rates," Bernd said.

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