As expected, the Cowlitz PUD Commission voted to increase residential power rates by an average of five percent, effective on Sunday, Septermber 1st. The rate increase is in line with the recommendations of the citizen-staffed Electric Rates Advisory Committee; PUD Commission President Buz Ketcham says that group did a great job of starting the utility on the road to rate equity for all customers…pudrates…Starting on Sunday, the “basic charge” on residential power bills will go up by $5. The kilowatt-hour charge for power will remain essentially the same. Commercial and industrial customers will actually see their rates go down; “schedule 5” customers will get a four-percent decrease, “schedule 8” customers will have a two-percent reduction, and “schedule 9” customers will have a fifteen-percent cut. The utility’s Rate Stabilization Fund will help to pay for those reductions. The most recent Cost of Service Analysis showed that those rate classes were subsidizing residential rates; state law requires that all classes of ratepayers pay an equal share. It’s planned that the rate inequity be reviewed again next year, to see if additional adjustments are needed. The ERAC had proposed a three-year process, whereby annual increases would be used to bring residential rates in line with the commercial and industrial rates.