If the Cowlitz PUD Commission follows the recommendation of the Electrical Rates Advisory Committee, residential power rates will go up an average of five percent on September first, with additional five percent raises planned in the next two years, as well. The ERAC made its report to the PUD Commission yesterday morning, and Commission President Buz Ketcham says that it’s clear that the group took its role seriously…ratecommittee…The Electrical Rates Advisory Committee first met in May, including representatives from the community at large, low-income citizens, senior citizens, and several levels of commercial and industrial users. After several months of study, it was determined that residential rates are being subsidized by commercial and industrial ratepayers. In doing their Cost of Service Analysis, or COSA, a majority of the Rate Advisory Committee came to the conclusion that rates should be adjusted over three years, to bring all rate categories to more or less the same percentage. It’s being suggested that the equalization be phased over three years, with some of the blow softened by the utility’s Rate Stabilization Fund. The Commissioners accepted the report, while asking the industrial members of the committee if a reduction in electrical rates will translate into more jobs. Those in attendance say that there will be a definite impact on economic development. No formal action was taken at yesterday’s workshop, though the PUD Commission will need to act at one of their August meetings, to have the proposed rate schedule in place by September 1. The proposed rate hike will boost the average residential power bill by an average of $5, basically due to a hike in the monthly “basic charge”, rather than boosting the rate paid for each kilowatt-hour.