Sitka will likely see a hike in electric rates, but the Assembly is considering an ordinance that would limit the rate hike – by 15% – to the summer months. (Emily Kwong/KCAW photo)

Sitka will likely see a hike in electric rates. To make up the $2.2 million dollar deficit in the electric fund, the local Assembly will consider two ordinances at its regular meeting tonight (02-28-17).

See full agenda here: 170228_AssemblyAgenda

The first ordinance (Ord 2017-05) proposes a flat rate hike of 15%, effective April 1st. Under the new guidelines, residential customers charged 12 cents per kilowatt hour would pay 15 cents a kilowatt hour. The ordinance also does away with a tiered rate structure. Basically, the rate would be the same regardless of a customer’s electric load.

The second ordinance (Ord 2017-06) suggests making the rate increase seasonal, effective October 1st. Instead of paying 15 cents year around, residential customers would pay 19 cents in the summer and 12 cents in the winter. Utility Director Bryan Bertacchi floated the idea at the last Assembly meeting. Colder temperatures is when most electrical consumption spikes.

Together, Bertacchi, said the ordinances manage to balance the books while lightening the load for year-round customers. “If you look at the rate structure, the rates would be pretty low for the winter. For people that are here in town or struggling with being able to heat their homes and stay warm in the winter, that would be helpful. And then the rates would equally higher in the summer,” Bertacchi said. “That’s the second ordinance that’s up for approval. It helps us capture more dollars in the summer from folks that aren’t here in the winter.”

The Sitka Assembly will consider both ordinances on first reading tonight.

Last meeting, the Sitka Assembly raised the sales tax cap to $12,000. The city has determined that products purchased within Sitka – but resold outside of Sitka – will still be taxable. The Assembly will review that interpretation of the new sales tax code tonight, meeting in their chambers at Harrigan Centennial Hall at 6 p.m.