Politics & Government

Tacoma council to consider rate hikes for water, power utility

The Tacoma City Council will consider rate increases for its power and water utilities during its Tuesday meeting.

Tacoma Power proposes a one-time average electric rate increase of 3 percent, while Tacoma Water is asking for an average 4-percent increase this year and another next year.

The proposed rate increases largely mirror what the utility predicted in a budget hearing last year.

Some types of customers will pay more than others, according to a memo from the Tacoma Public Utilities Board.

Water rates for residential customers would increase by 4.1 percent and 4.5 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively, if the council approves the increase.

Without the water rate increases, the utility would fall short by $7.5 million in the next two years, a memo to the City Council states.

Electric customers would see rate increases ranging from 1.7 percent to 3.9 percent, depending on the type of customer and use. Residential customers would pay 2.7 percent higher rates.

If power rates don’t rise, the utility would have a revenue shortfall of $15.8 million.

Even though most of Tacoma Power’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power, the current drought is not affecting rates because the utility routinely plans for low-water years in its two-year budget, said TPU spokeswoman Chris Gleason.

“We don’t anticipate it’s going to have an impact on rates, at least this year,” Gleason said.

Power and water bills would reflect this year’s new rates starting April 1. The second water rate increase would be effective Jan. 1, 2016.