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.
Public invited to comment at rate case hearings next month
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Staff members of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today filed testimony recommending rejecting two-thirds of the $42.8 million Pacific Power originally requested last January.
On Jan. 11, Pacific Power filed a general rate case with the UTC requesting an annual $42.8 million or 14.1 percent overall rate increase. Commission staff is recommending a $14.6 million or 4.8 percent overall rate hike.
The three-member commission, which is not bound by the staff recommendation, will make a final decision on the utility’s rate request this fall. New rates will be in effect no later than Dec. 11.
Electric customers of Pacific Power are invited to comment to state regulators on the utility’s proposed rate increase request at two public hearings in Yakima and Walla next month.
The first public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 15, at the Yakima City Council Chambers, 129 N. 2nd St., Yakima. The second public hearing is at noon Tuesday, July 16 at the Walla Walla City Council Chambers, 15 N. 3rd Ave., Walla Walla.
Under the staff proposal, a Pacific Power average residential customer using 1,300 kilowatt hours–per-month would see their electric bill increase by $2.42, for a bill total of $110.03. UTC staff members also propose residential customers pay more for a basic monthly service charge – from $6 to $8.64 – rather than the $10 the company was seeking. This monthly charge is paid by all customers regardless of the amount of electricity used.
Also included in the staff recommendation are increases in reconnection fees and penalties for those caught tampering with meters. If a customer is disconnected for nonpayment and needs to be reconnected during normal weekday business hours, the charge would go up from $25 to $34. The fee for those caught siphoning power off the grid, would rise from $75 to $180.
The UTC regulatory staff recommends Pacific Power be allowed the opportunity to earn a 7.03 percent overall rate of return, not the 7.8 percent the company originally sought. The company’s currently approved rate of return is 7.74 percent. This accounts for $10 million difference between what the company requested and the UTC staff proposed. Other major differences between the company’s request and the UTC staff recommendation are reductions of nearly $14 million for power supply costs and $3 million in infrastructure investments.
In addition, commission staff proposes customers pay 12 cents a month more in their contribution to the company’s low-income assistance program, from 63 to 75 cents monthly. The staff recommendation allows an additional 472 people to be served by this increased funding.
The commission has received 43 public comments to date on the Pacific Power rate increase proposal – 41 opposed and two undecided. 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 email@example.com
or call toll-free 1-888-333-9882.
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 132,000 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 that regulates private, investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities 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.
The UTC is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to meeting participants with disabilities. If you need reasonable accommodation, please contact the commission at (360) 664-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org