TACOMA, Wash. — Tacoma Public Utilities’ (TPU) customers could see its power and water get a little more expensive next year.
The utility services provider is set to submit a proposal to the Tacoma City Council that would increase the rates of power and water for its customers.
Costs for power would increase by 3.9% and water by 4.2% for residences, about $3.70 a month for the average residential customer.
Deputy Director of Administration Jim Sant points to inflation as the reason for the rate increase.
“We’re facing cost pressures all over our operating costs as well as costs to do our projects or maintain the system and wages, just like so many other businesses and residents are experiencing as well,” Sant said.
TPU serves more than 181,000 customers. Its base expands beyond Tacoma into Fircrest, University Place, Fife, parts of Steilacoom, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and unincorporated Pierce County.
As inflation continues to be felt across the board, Sant says that TPU is rolling out enhancements to its bill credit assistance program alongside the rate increases to provide some relief.
“Those who qualify could wind up with bills that, on average for their usage, are lower than they are currently, even with the rate increase,” Sant said. “We’re excited about trying to help those that really have the most trouble affording these bills, and we know it’s hard on them, so we’re specifically trying to address that.”
John Seng of Spark Northwest said that it’s critical that TPU has these programs in place as the county and state’s need for affordable electricity grows.
“Washingtonians are very quickly moving towards safe and reliable all-electric appliances for home heating and cooking, stuff like heat cooking and induction stoves,” Seng said. “As we become increasingly dependent on electricity for all of our home needs, it’s going to be extra important to make sure that this fair access to affordable energy is ensured for all of us.”
Tacoma Public Utilities will seek approval for the rate increases from Tacoma City Council in November. Customers can weigh in on the issue at a board meeting that will take place in TPU’s auditorium Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.