Changes approved after internal audit revealed disparity in billing rates for boat slips

After adopting energy rate changes that took effect in October, Columbia River People's Utility District directors approved further revisions to its rate schedules, affecting ratepayers with houseboats, boat slips and floating homes.

The Columbia River PUD board of directors voted unanimously to change rate classes for those who use boat slips or have floating homes, ultimately resulting in lower rates for those customers and a more consistent billing mechanism for the PUD.

"What we've seen is a trend in customers using a boat for their sole residence," PUD General Manager John Nguyen explained Tuesday evening, Nov. 21.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Columbia River PUD directors discuss recommended changes to several rate classes for customers during a public meeting Tuesday, Nov. 21. Directors approved changes that will ultimately lower rates for some with boat slips and floating homes.

As a result, customers who live on a boat will be moved out of the general service customer billing class and into the residential class.

"Staff received customer input regarding the assignment of Rate Schedule 10 to customers identified as having boat slips," a PUD staff report indicates. "This prompted a review by the PUD's Rate Design Team ..."

After an audit of which rate schedules were assigned to customers with boat slips, PUD staff found that some customers who claimed to use their boat as their sole resi-

dence were paying different rates than those who were not living out of their floating vessels.

"This created a disparity in the classification of customers with boat slips — residential and general service," the staff report notes.

On recommendation from PUD staff, directors opted to amend language in five different rate schedules, and move all boat slip customers to a residential rate, consistent with floating homes and house boats.

That means some will see a reduction in their monthly customer charge, from $22 to $12.50 a month, along with a slightly lower energy charge per kilowatt hour of $.07, down from $.0743.

Nguyen noted the change will reduce the utility district's revenues slightly, but likely won't have any significant financial impact.

The rate changes will take effect in January.

Director Debbie Reed asked if the district plans to notify affected customers.

Nguyen said the PUD can include a bill message to customers to note the change.

"Looks to me like a lot of thought went into this and we're saving the ratepayers some money, reflecting well on the PUD," Director Rob Mathers observed, before voting in favor of the change.

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