Customers of the Snohomish County Public Utility District are demanding answers about why their bills have gone up drastically over the past few months.

Hayley Shapiro’s typical Snohomish County PUD electricity bill is about $60. But that changed this month.

“I was like, $481 dollars! I thought it was a typo. I thought they meant $48 and whatever cents,” explained Shapiro.

It’s a financial jolt that some of Snohomish County PUD’s 300,000 customers are feeling in their pocketbooks. Some have seen bills triple or quadruple in the last month.

Shapiro has lived in her house less than a year, is at work all day and lives alone. When she put her story on Facebook and it darn near broke the internet.

Jesse Jones

Here’s the initial story —

It’s true — Even those of us here at OsoDarrington.org have noticed a very marked increase in our electric utility bills since right around September 2015.

As the story goes, Snohomish County PUD, for reasons it really hasn’t been able to make clear, short of mentioning that the switch would streamline their services, went from billing bi-monthly, to billing once a month. The PUD still reads the meters every 2 months however, whilst providing only an estimate bill for service every other month — Therein lies the problem. Since coming up with this scheme, area residential PUD customers have seen their electric bills sky-rocket, to nearly triple in some cases, and failing to go by the previous years billings by the estimates.

How it works —

Let’s say for instance that in October 2014, a PUD Customer got a bill for $175 for two months of service. Fine — His bill was calculated “after” the meter read that equalled out to $87.50 for each month of service.

Now it’s October 2015 — A PUD Customer, who got a $175 bill last year at this same time for two months of service, is now getting a bill for $175 for only one month of service. See how that works?
If the PUD was going according the last years averages, the PUD Customer should have gotten a bill for right around $87.50 for each month — Instead, the PUD Customer gets a bill for around $175 for “each” of the two months he was billed only $87.50 (a piece) for just one year ago.

Not real sure how the Snohomish County PUD is calculating the averages as they might relate to their estimated billing scheme, but it appears, at least on the surface, that a huge spike in rates has been implemented under the cover of the new scheme itself — We call it a “scheme” because we found ourselves fairly hard-pressed with regard to coming up with a term or a description that fully illustrates what might be going on.

We’ve seen our rate doubled here at OsoDarrington.org since September 2015, so you aren’t alone in this. As the story progresses, and as people come forward with their own proof of what’s happened, or with what’s currently happening, we’re pretty sure that the Snohomish County PUD will have no choice but to come clean and tell it’s nearly 300,000 customers the truth about what’s actually going on.

Could it be a glitch in the software or the overall estimation system itself? Or could it be that the Snohomish County PUD is ramping up in an effort to sell itself to another Utility or Hedge Fund?

In the corporate world it’s common for a company to build itself up in order to become more attractive to potential buyers if a planned sale be in the works. The first order of any business, before a sale, is to fatten up it’s bottom line in order to show profitability — Companies that do this usually fetch a higher asking price.

The fact that the Snohomish County PUD is billing out once a month while still doing meter reads bi-monthly is telling inasmuch as the overhead that’s being saved with regard to single month reads.
Labor is the single largest form of overhead that any company has — Cutting that overhead can increase the bottom line or otherwise fatten the profit margin of any company, especially if that company is looking to sell itself —

But we’ll see — Maybe this is just a simple software glitch — My money says that the Snohomish County PUD is looking to sell itself. Lets hope I’m wrong.

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