PUD, Farm Bureau Oppose Carbon Fee Initiative

According [to] the Lewis County Public Utility District, [I-1631] would have a huge impact on consumers.

“Preliminary cost estimates are a 1.5 to 2 percent rate impact in year one, and then an additional compounding one-quarter to three-quarters percent rate increase each year thereafter,” said Matt Samuelson, the PUD’s interim manager. “This is in addition to all the other upward cost pressures the district is facing.”

Samuelson and the PUD’s staff officially have no position on the measure, but put together an analysis that the PUD board used in voting to register its official opposition to the initiative. The unanimous vote Tuesday was paired with a companion resolution urging voters to be informed about the impact to rates when they make a decision on the 1631. …

PUD figures estimate the initiative would cost the district about $600,000 in 2020, the first year fees would be collected, a number that would balloon to $1 million within five years — and climbing from there. …

The Lewis County Farm Bureau is opposing 1631 as well …

“Huge costs are predominantly going to be paid for by farmers and small businessmen,” said Farm Bureau board member Ron Averill. “It gets more and more expensive as you go along.”

… Gas prices are estimated to go up by about 14 cents once the measure takes effect, rising to 40 cents after 10 years, according to Todd Myers, director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center. Fuels used for agriculture exempted, but Averill said farmers will still feel an impact.

“(Farm fuels) are not how we get our products to market,” he said. “It doesn’t do any good on the farm. You’ve still got to transport it to market.

Meanwhile, the area’s biggest polluter would be exempt from the fee. TransAlta’s coal-fired plant in Centralia will not be subject to the carbon costs.

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