EAST WENATCHEE — Around 200 large power customers — including data centers, cryptocurrency miners, agriculture warehouses and some grocery stores — would see a 3% power rate increase under the Douglas County PUD’s proposed 2020 budget.

Commissioners received the preliminary budget at their meeting Monday in Bridgeport.

The 3% rate increase would bring in roughly $260,000 a year, which would be put into the utility’s reserves, spokeswoman Meaghan Vibbert said Wednesday.

The proposed increase would only affect the highest-tier customers that use more than 50,000 kilowatt-hours of power. The average residential customer won’t be affected, Vibbert said.

The highest-tier customers now pay $0.0244 per kWh, compared with $0.0233 in tier 1 and $0.0240 in tier 2, according to the PUD’s website.

The tier 1 users last saw a rate increase in 2013, she said. Then in 2017 they were switched to monthly billing, which resulted in a flat $3-a-month fee hike.

Users in the upper two tiers saw their rates increase by 1.5% first in 2017 and again in 2019, she said.

This proposed rate increase is not related to the utility’s active moratorium on new data centers and cryptocurrency miners, Vibbert said. That moratorium began in May and is expected to run through the end of the year.

The increase is part of the utility’s distribution system budget, which is expected to have $32.3 million in capital improvements next year, according to a Tuesday news release.

Commissioners also received the preliminary budget for Wells Dam. It forecasts $42.2 million in operating expenses and $45 million in capital spending on refurbishment and improvements, according to the release.

A public hearing on the PUD’s budget is set for Oct. 14 and public feedback will be accepted until Dec. 9.

The Chelan County PUD announced this month a proposed 3% increase on all customers in the county as a result of its strategic planning process. If it’s implemented, it would be Chelan County’s first rate increase in eight years.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified which user tiers saw rate increases over the past six years. It's been updated to reflect the correct timeline. 

Reilly Kneedler: 661-5213

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