Hermiston Council Votes to Increase Electric Rate in 2 Phases During 2021


The Hermiston City Council did what the mayor called “the worst part of the job” Monday night in voting to increase electrical rates for Hermiston Energy Services (HES) customers.

The council voted to implement a pair of rate increases in 2021 – the first will be a 6.98 percent hike on Jan. 1, 2021, followed by a 6.9 percent increase in October 2021.

Residential HES customers currently pay an average of $111 per month – the lowest in the region. With the increases, that number will go to $117 per month under the first increase, and then $124 under the second rate hike next October. The Oregon average is $176 per month and the national average is $186.

HES Superintendent Nate Rivera told the council last month that the rate increases are needed to close a $1 million revenue shortfall.

The council heard from a few people on Monday concerned about the increases during difficult economic times.

Renetta Morgan of Hermiston noted the new increases coming on the heels of recent water rate hikes exceed typical cost-of-living increases people receive through raises or increases to Social Security benefits.

Hermiston resident Jackie Linton suggested the council go with more frequent, but smaller increases to help people adjust.

Maria Durón, a former Umatilla Electric Cooperative employee and incoming Hermiston City Councilor, urged the council to implement a public awareness campaign available in English and Spanish that spells out the need for the increases, as well as programs available to help pay the bills.

“This is the worst part of the job, right?” said Mayor Dave Drotzmann. “We are in tough times, but we have to be able to pay our bills. We can’t continue to neglect our infrastructure and expect it to be sustainable, so we have to look at costs over time.”

The council voted 4-2 to increase the rates beginning Jan. 1. Councilors Doug Primmer and Lori Davis opposed the increases.