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Tag: Tacoma Public Utilities


TACOMA: Council names Patterson to Public Utility Board

Here’s the press release from TPU:

Attorney Mark Patterson joins Tacoma Public Utility Board

Mark Patterson, a lifelong Tacoma resident, will serve a five-year term as the newest member of the Tacoma Public Utility Board. The Tacoma City Council appointed Patterson to the board at its July 10 meeting. He will attend his first meeting as a board member at 6:30 p.m. today.

Patterson is an attorney and shareholder with the law firm Vandeberg, Johnson & Gandara, with an emphasis on business law. His areas of focus include corporate and partnership issues, taxation and securities law, mergers and acquisitions, commercial

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Tacoma: City reimburses TPU, others for misappropriated funds

The City of Tacoma has reimbursed $2.4 million to Tacoma Public Utilities and other city entities for misusing restricted reserve funds three years ago to help balance the city’s general fund budget, the city’s finance director said Tuesday.

“We took care of it today,” Finance Director Bob Biles said.

With interest, the city’s repayments include $1.3 million to TPU, $502,00 to General Goverment utilities and about $660,000 to other city entities. The repayments will come out of the general fund’s rainy day cash balances and won’t affect the current year’s budget shortfall of about $11 million, city officials said.


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Tacoma: Some on city council question proposed power rate hikes

Some Tacoma City Council members are signaling they’re not yet convinced that Tacoma Power rate hikes proposed for the next two years are justified.

“I need them to show me a little bit more on their math,” Tacoma City Councilman Marty Campbell said Monday. “I’m just not there yet.”

But Tacoma Public Utilities officials, who repeatedly have said such rate increases are needed to balance the coming budget, are sticking to their guns.

“The drivers for these rate increases are pretty clear and easy to understand,” Bob Casey, president of the TPU board, said Friday. “I’m pretty comfortable that the City Council will ultimately come to that conclusion, as well.”

As part of a $1.1 billion budget plan covering Tacoma Power, Water and Rail for 2011-12, TPU has proposed that city policy makers choose to either impose a one-time system-wide average rate increase in 2011 of 9.8 percent for power, and 8.4 percent for water; or opt to spread two smaller rate hikes – ranging from 5.0 to 5.7 percent annually – over the next two years for each utility.

Either way, TPU officials say revenues garnered from the prospective rate hikes are necessary for the utility to balance a coming budget that’s about $109 million less than the current one. TPU officials also have proposed cutting 84 full-time positions, including 20 by layoffs, across all departments.

The City Council has yet to hold a formal discussion or take any action about where it collectively stands on the prospective rate hikes. Even so, several members have separately raised concerns during recent meetings and interviews.

“What I’m hearing from the community and my colleagues is that (Tacoma Water) has made a compelling case for its rate increase,” Councilman Ryan Mello said last week. “No one likes it and no one wants to do it, but there are good reasons why we probably have to.”

Mello and others have pointed to the water utility facing big capital expenses in the coming years, including a new water filtration system that could cost as much as $217 million to construct.

“But I don’t think (Tacoma Power) has made as compelling a case,” Mello added. “I’m not convinced yet that two straight years of power rate increases are really necessary.”
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Tacoma: TPU presents budget plan; details rate increases, job cuts

Rate hikes faced by Tacoma Public Utilities’ customers are slightly less than those first proposed last month, but they remain a “significant” impact to ratepayers, public utility officials told Tacoma City Council on Tuesday.

“There’s never a great time for a rate increase,” TPU Director Bill Gaines told the council, when presenting the latest 2011-12 budget plan.

Still, in order to balance the budget, utility officials are recommending “system average rate increases” for each of the next two years of 5.7 percent for Tacoma Power customers, and 5 percent for Tacoma Water customers.

Alternatively, TPU officials proposed that policy makers could choose to impose a one-time rate increase in 2011 of 9.8 percent for power, and 8.4 percent for water.

In either case, water rates likely would go up on January 1, with power rates to follow on April 1, officials said.

As part of the budget plan, TPU officials also detailed a proposed reduction of 84 full time employees across all utilities – water, power and rail – that would include 64 positions cut by attrition and 20 by layoffs.

All proposed layoffs would occur within Tacoma Power and target positions “where work has gone or will go away,” Gaines said, such as in services provided to new construction, which has largely disappeared amid the dour economy.
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Tacoma Water proposes budget, estimates $1.75 per month rate hikes

Tacoma Water managers on Wednesday presented a $164 million budget proposal for 2011-12 to the Tacoma Public Utilities board that factors in rate increases to help balance the spending plan.

Residential rate increases are estimated at $1.75 per month for each of the next two years, according to a press release. Utility officials has said its average monthly household water bill now is $28.

The proposed budget and rate increases must be approved by the TPU board and the Tacoma City Council. Tacoma Power is expected to separately present its budget on Sept 22.

Here’s TPU’s news release on Tacoma Water’s budget proposal:
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TPU: Double-digit rate hikes for water, power may be coming

Tacoma water and power customers may soon face double-digit rate hikes, as Tacoma Public Utilities officials grapple with covering some big-ticket capital expenses in TPU’s coming two-year budget, utilities officials told me this week.

Specifics about how much exactly any prospective rate increases will be are still being worked out, as TPU prepares budget proposals to bring before the utilities board next month.

“We take any rate increase seriously,” TPU director Bill Gaines told me Thursday. “Part of our philosophy is to keep rates as low as possible.”

I met this week with Gaines and other TPU officials, at his invitation, to discuss ongoing and pending capital projects and how they fit in with the budget.

During a similar briefing he gave the Tacoma City Council earlier this year, Gaines told council members he expected rate increases to remain in the single digits. When I asked Gaines Thursday if that remains to be the case, he responded: “That’s looking increasingly difficult to do that.”
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TPU: 36-year pursuit of new license for Cushman dams finally over

After more than three and a half decades, Tacoma Power has a new lease on the operating life for two aging dams.

Tacoma Public Utilities issued a press release late Friday announcing that, after nearly 40 years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has finally granted the city-owned utility a new license to operate the Cushman hydroelectric dams until 2048.

According to the press release, the new operating license, granted by FERC on Thursday, amended a previous licensing agreement to include the terms of a settlement between TPU and the Skokomish Tribe in 2008.

Under the settlement — which was contingent on the new license — TPU had agreed to pay $12.6 million and swap some 1,140 acres of property to the Skokomish. In exchange, the tribe agreed to drop a $5.6 billion lawsuit it had filed in 1999 that claimed the two Cushman dams wiped out treaty-protected fishing and hunting grounds and unlawfully enriched the City of Tacoma for decades.

The deal  hinged on Tacoma Power receiving the new operating license from FERC, which it had been seeking for decades. The city’s attempts to re-license the project dates to 1974, when the original license expired. Ever since, the Cushman dams have operated under temporary licenses while the long-term license was held up in a legal battle before federal regulators and in the courts.
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