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  • Ashland power rates set to rise 5.3 percent

  • Ashland electric customers will be paying 5.3 percent more beginning Nov. 1.
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  • Ashland electric customers will be paying 5.3 percent more beginning Nov. 1.
    The Ashland City Council unanimously approved the rate increase on Tuesday night.
    The average residential customer in Ashland pays $68.68 per month and will see bills rise to $72.31 per month, according to a city staff.
    The Bonneville Power Administration, which wholesales electricity to the Ashland Electric Department, raised its wholesale rates by 6.3 percent this month, city staff said.
    The Electric Department is also seeing higher costs for BPA power transmission and city conservation efforts, infrastructure spending and operations, city staff said.
    "It gives me no pleasure to have to increase rates, but it's going to have to be done someday," said Councilor Rich Rosenthal, adding that increasing rates this fall is the responsible path.
    Even with the 5.3 percent rate increase, Ashland electric customers will still pay an average of $9.87 per month less beginning in November than comparable customers of investor-owned Pacific Power, a major electricity supplier to Rogue Valley residents, according to city staff.
    Pacific Power has filed for a 1.55 percent electric rate increase that would go into effect in 2014 if granted by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, said Pacific Power Spokesperson Jan Mitchell.
    More Ashland electricity rate increases are projected for the future.
    The city is anticipating a 4.9 percent increase in 2015, a 3.5 percent increase in 2016 and a 3 percent increase in 2017, according to city staff.
    Those increases would have to be approved by the City Council in the future.
    Pacific Power is not expecting to raise rates in 2015. The earliest that another increase could take effect is 2016, Mitchell said.
    The city has aid programs to help qualifying senior, disabled and low income residents pay their electricity bills.
    Low income senior citizens who would like to apply for a utility bill discount can call 541-488-5342.
    Senior, disabled and low income residents can get more information about applying for the Ashland Low Income Energy Assistance Program by calling 541-552-2038.
    For more information about electricity bill help or donating to city aid programs, visit http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=12383.
    The city also has numerous conservation programs and incentives to help residents and businesses reduce their electricity consumption.
    Residents can call 541-552-2063 and businesses can call 541-552-2065 for conservation program information.
    Information on conservation programs is also available at http://ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=1366.
    Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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