Courtesy Flannery Publications
LONG BEACH — The Pacific County Public Utility District’s new boss started the job with a 3 percent hike in power rates that took effect on his first day.
Jason Dunsmoor is replacing longtime General Manager Doug Miller, who is retiring. Dunsmoor stepped up from chief engineer to the position on Oct. 1, just in time for ratepayers to see the increase on their power bills.
“Talk about a handoff,” Dunsmoor joked, during a recent phone interview.
The new manager said the power bill for an average home is expected to rise about 81 cents a month. That’s $9.72 a year.
The utility’s three elected commissioners also approved increasing the minimum monthly bill from $13 to $18. Dunsmoor said they wanted to give regular ratepayers a break by bringing in more money from seasonal residents who often pay the minimum most months of the year.
The bill increases is needed to offset a rise in the utility’s power rates, Dunsmoor said. The PUD buys power wholesale from Bonneville Power Administration.
The nonprofit federal agency announced in July it would raise average wholesale power rates by 6.1 percent for the financial years of 2018 and 2019. BPA also dropped average transmission rates by 0.7 percent.
For Pacific County, the change worked out to about a 6 percent rise in its electric utility costs, Dunsmoor said. The PUD passed half the hike onto ratepayers with the 3 percent increase.
Due diligence and the public’s business
Dunsmoor’s plan for running the utility is simple.
“Keep the lights on and the rates low,” he said.
Beyond that, Dunsmoor said, he wants to change the way the utility communicates with the people it serves. He acknowledged more could have been done in the past to connect with the public.
Dunsmoor has asked staff to put together a Facebook page for the utility. He’s still unsure about Twitter.
Handling public records requests is also part of the general manager’s duties. Dunsmoor said he’d like to make it as easy as possible for people to get the information they need.
He invites anyone who wants records call his office before making a written request. If possible, Dunsmoor said, he’ll send the records right away, no paperwork necessary.
“We know people want to know what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” he said. “We need to do our part to get information out to customers. They shouldn’t have to work for it.”
Dunsmoor, 50, grew up in Raymond. After studying at Washington State University, returned to his hometown and found work as a utility engineer in 1992.
After almost 26 years, Dunsmoor said, he’s ready to work with the commissioners to take the PUD in a new direction.
“It’ll be a challenge but I’m up for it,” he said.