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Douglas County Public Utility District projects net income loss

— The Douglas County Public Utility District may see an estimated $618,000 net operating income loss in its distribution system budget next year.

“We have a lower interest income. So, the money we earn on our investment money has gone down quite a bit, so we’re budgeting for a decrease on that estimated revenue,” utility spokeswoman Meaghan Vibbert said.

However, she said, the utility “has a history of budgeting conservatively low on our revenue projections and conservatively high on expense projections.”

Revenues and operating expenses for the distribution system budget – which was approved Oct. 7 along with the Wells Hydroelectric Project 2013-2014 budget – are both anticipated to increase by 2.8 percent. The distribution expense budget has been set at $42 million, and the revenues are estimated at $46.7 million.

The capital budget for the distribution system is $9.6 million. Vibbert said the utility will use about $1.4 million from bond proceeds to help pay for projects, which includes $5.6 million for electrical facility improvements, new connections to the Douglas County Community Network and right-of-way easement costs.

One of the bigger capital projects being planned at Wells Dam next year include a new boat launch on Carpenter Island, located on the west side of the Columbia River below the dam. The utility will move the launch downriver by about six-tenths of a mile, then it will be paved and a parking lot will be added.

Some improvements to the overlook area at the dam are also in the works, including new interpretive displays and walking paths, Vibbert said.

The utility has set side $42.2 million for capital projects in the Wells Dam budget. Other projects will be refurbishing a generating unit, and replacing generator circuit breakers and cooling water strainers.

Overall, the Wells budget has been set at nearly $53.6 million, which is down $389,426 from this year’s estimate. The revenues and expenditures must balance as required by contract.

The utility passes both budgets every October. Other than the anticipated decreases in revenues, Vibbert said the budgets are “status quo.”

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