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AUBURN, Wash. - It may seem like a distant memory, but Puget Sound Energy customers face a future of higher rates after the January storms.

PSE is poised to seek another rate hike to help make up for the $72 million it cost to repair all the damage. And customers are still paying off the $90 million storm six years ago.

It may be spring, but Mike McKinney s already getting ready for winter.

I've been cutting it up for firewood, he said.

How can we forget that infamous January storm that crippled county after county - changing the landscape and leaving thousands powerless for nearly a week.

McKinney remembers it well.

Oh it looked like a hurricane went through here, I mean there were trees all over the place, he said.

Already hit hard by the storm, McKinney and other Puget Sound Energy customers are about to get hit again. Storm cleanup and repairs cost the utility $72 million. Costs that will likely be passed on to ratepayers, cutting into everyone s bottom line.

Oh I wouldn't like paying for it all all, said McKinney. They should have the money set aside for things like that.

So he is keeping plenty in reserves. One man s downed tree is Mike McKinney s treasure.

All my neighbors have been bringing me their tree limbs and trees and stuff, he said.

All powered up for the next time the power goes down, keeping PSE out of the picture and out of his pocketbook.

PSE budgets an average $8 million a year for storm repairs. They still have to petition the state utilities commission before any rate hike is approved.

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