Rate increase approved for Puget Sound Pilots

Rate increase approved for Puget Sound Pilots

OLYMPIA, Wash. –  State regulators approved a 4% rate increase for the maritime pilots who help ships move in and out of difficult-to-navigate Puget Sound waters.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a total revenue increase for the Puget Sound Pilots (PSP) of approximately $1.3 million over two years, broken down into a 2.7% increase in the first year and a 1.3% increase in the second year for a total increase of 4%. This is a significant decrease from the company’s original request of a 40% revenue increase.

This decision marks the first PSP rate case reviewed by the three- member commission since the state Legislature passed the regulatory authority for marine pilotage rate-setting to the UTC in 2018, and is the first rate increase for PSP since 2015. 

Seattle-based Puget Sound Pilots is a maritime association that employs pilots to assist ship captains and crews to safely move vessels in and out of the Puget Sound.

In its order, the commission also found that PSP’s current unfunded defined-benefit retirement plan is unsustainable because it relies on market conditions from the previous year to fund retirees, and is unnecessarily costly to shippers who pay the costs directly through rates. PSP must begin discussions with stakeholders, facilitated by a mutually accepted third party, to develop a transition to a fully funded, defined-benefit plan to file with its next general rate case.

While the UTC oversees rate-setting for marine pilotage, the Board of Pilotage Commissioners (BPC) has jurisdiction over training, licensing, safety, and other aspects of administering the Pilotage Act.

Parties to the proceeding, Pacific Marine Shipping Association and Pacific Yacht Management, also recommended that PSP’s original revenue request be reduced.

The UTC received two public comments on this rate case, both opposed.

The UTC regulates the rates and services of household goods movers; passenger transportation companies; investor-owned electric, natural gas, garbage, and water utilities; landline telecommunications companies; garbage haulers; commercial ferries; pipeline companies; marine pilotage; and a low-level radioactive waste repository.