Richland electricity customers could pay more for power next yea - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland electricity customers could pay more for power next year

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- People who live in Richland could see a jump in their electricity bill starting next year.

The city council could make a decision tonight that may take a bigger bite out of your wallet. Turning on the lights could cost more with each switch for Richland utility customers.

Richland Energy Services Director Bob Hammond, says the city provider can't keep up anymore with the rate increases they've seen from the Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies Richland's electricity.

"We haven't raised rates when theirs have gone up but we're at the point now where we're basically not recovering anywhere near what we need to run the utilities through our rates," says Hammond.

The last time Richland energy services raised rates was in 2004. They've reached into reserves to hold off rate increases recently, but say they just can't do it anymore.

"We have to recover our costs and we want to make sure when people turn their switches on and their appliances on the power is there," says Hammond.

If the City approves a rate increase, residential customers will see an increase of nine percent, but businesses and other customer classes could see up to a 20 percent increase.

Some customers are concerned about the possible price jump, especially since it's happening in the winter when they're using more power.

"With winter coming up, it's going to be a little bit harder if they increase if for us because winter it's gong to be up already. Then the increase of nine percent will be harder for us families, especially middle class or lower families to even afford what we already have to," says Isabell McCord, a Richland Energy Services customer.

Others know someone has to pick up the tab.

"It's going to have to go up sooner or later because the Bonneville Power Administration's rates keep going up because they keep making them buy wind power and things like this that are ridiculously priced. So somebody's got to pay for it I guess," says Gene Wallace, a Richland Energy Services customer.

Tuesday's city council meeting will include a public hearing where you can share your thoughts with the city council.

Tuesday night's meeting starts at 7pm. If the council does vote for the rate increase, the prices will go up January 1st.

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