Lewis County PUD Commission Votes to Have No Budgeted Rate Increases in 2023, 2024


Presented with two possible budgets for 2023 and 2024, the Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) commissioners voted 2-1 to adopt the versions including no rate hikes for customers on Tuesday morning.

Barring a crisis or unforeseen necessity requiring a change to the budget, the move means customers across the district will have two fiscal years without higher costs for energy. The district covers the entire county except Centralia.

The savings for customers come at the expense of the utility, cutting back some training, maintenance and equipment purchases, according to Commissioner Tim Cournyer, the lone dissenting vote.

“Our strategic plan and what we stood for all along is safe, reliable power at a reasonable cost,” he said during discussion before the resolutions were passed, later adding, “I think all three of those (cuts) will negatively affect what we’ve stated we want as a utility.”

After running for re-election in the seat this year, Cournyer was beaten in the primary by two candidates — Mike Hadaller and Kevin Emerson — whose campaigns focus on lowering rate costs. Likewise, Commissioner Michael Kelly told The Chronicle his 2020 campaign was centered around a goal to “reign in spending and stabilize our rates.”

Kelly said he was “very pleased” with the passing of the budget resolutions after Tuesday’s meeting.

PUD General Manager Chris Roden echoed that sentiment in an email to The Chronicle, calling the move “an outstanding outcome for the community. As our customers are dealing with rising costs in many areas, their PUD rates will remain unchanged for the next two years.”

The elected board is free to change the budget as they see fit in the coming years. However, with two self-proclaimed budget balancing commissioners in office after the Nov. 8 general election, the current path is likely to be held.