Franklin PUD to cut rates additional 3% on May 1

Franklin PUD plans to trim its residential electric rates by an additional 3 percent for a year beginning May 1.

And it also has named Ed Brost interim manager to take over when Manager Jean Ryckman retires at the end of the month.

The utility last month approved an average 4 percent rate cut. But that was before it got a $2.8 million check from the Bonneville Power Administration as part of a settlement for overcharges.

Public utilities are in the process of settling a long-running dispute over their funding of a program to provide benefits to residential and small farm customers of investor-owned utilities such as Avista and Pacific Power. While a larger repayment program is being negotiated, the BPA is sending back money to cover overcharges for this year and part of last year.

"I think Bonneville is really stepping up and being good stewards, giving us the money back as much as they can," Franklin PUD spokeswoman Debbie Bone-Harris said.

Richland Energy Services still hasn't decided what to do with its rebate money. Benton PUD this week approved a plan to put a credit on customers' bills that will, in effect, reduce rates by almost 7 percent for a year beginning June 1.

That's what Franklin PUD is doing. More money may be on the way this fall once Bonneville announces a final settlement for the entire period since public utilities began being overcharged in October 2001.

Bone-Harris said the temporary 3 percent rate cut could be extended, depending on how the final agreement with Bonneville shakes out.

In the meantime, Brost is set to take over May 1 as interim manager. The BPA's former Tri-City-based account executive, Brost joined Franklin PUD in November 2006 to serve as its first power management director.

He later added the title of assistant manager.

Bone-Harris said the PUD commission won't likely decide how to proceed toward naming a permanent manager until its meeting in late May.