Editor’s note: This news release reflects the position of energy staff of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and NOT the views of the three-member commission. It discusses a staff recommendation that the commissioners have not yet reviewed. Any positions taken or comments offered by the commission staff regarding this proceeding should be attributed clearly to staff members and NOT to the UTC.
State utility staff slash Pacific Power’s rate increase request
Public invited to comment at two local meetings in Yakima and Walla Walla
OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulatory staff are proposing to cut more than two-thirds from Pacific Power’s electric rate increase request.
In testimony filed today, staff members of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) are recommending Pacific Power be allowed to increase revenue by $3.3 million a year, less than a third of the $12.9 million the utility originally requested last July.
The three-member UTC, which is not bound by the staff recommendation, will make a final decision on the utility’s rate-hike request next spring. If approved by the UTC, the proposed increase would to take effect in May.
Under the staff proposal, a Pacific Power average residential customer using 1,300 kilowatt hours-per-month would see their electric bill increase by $1.33, for a bill total of $104.41. UTC staff members’ proposal includes residential customers paying slightly more for a basic monthly service charge – from $6 to $6.07 – paid by all customers regardless of the amount of electricity used.
Customers also would see an eight cent-a-month rise next year in their contribution to the company’s low-income bill assistance program, from 55 to 63 cents monthly. The staff recommendation would allow an additional 1,800 people to be helped over the next five years.
On July 1 Pacific Power filed a general rate case with the UTC requesting an annual $12.9 million, or 4.3 percent, overall rate increase. Commission staff is recommending a $3.3 million increase annually, a 1.1 percent overall rate hike.
Among the major differences between the company’s request and the UTC staff’s recommendation are reductions for power supply costs, lower natural-gas prices and the elimination of salary increases for all employees. The company’s overall rate of return is 7.74 percent.
Pacific Power customers will be able to comment to state regulators at two public meetings later this month. The first meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Walla Walla City Council Chambers, 15 N. 3rd Ave., Walla Walla. The second meeting begins at noon Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Yakima City Council Chambers, 129 N. 2nd St., Yakima.
The commission has received 14 total public comments on Pacific Power’s rate-increase proposal – two undecided and 12 opposed. Customers who would like to comment on the case are encouraged to write the UTC at: P.O. Box 47250 Olympia, Wash. 98504, e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call toll-free 1-888-333-9882. The commission’s deadline for accepting public comments is March 30.
In addition to the UTC staff and the company, other parties taking part in the proceeding include the Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section, advocates for large electricity users and low-income customers.
Pacific Power is a division of Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp and is owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. The company provides electric service to about 130,000 customers in five Eastern Washington counties: Kittitas, Columbia, Garfield, Walla Walla and Yakima. Cities in the company’s service territory include Yakima, Toppenish, Sunnyside, Selah, Pomeroy, Walla Walla and Dayton.
The UTC is the state agency in charge of regulating the private, investor-owned electric companies in Washington. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.
Editor’s Note: A copy of the UTC staff recommendation is available at the commission’s website: www.utc.wa.gov/111190