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Docket number: UE-130617
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.
Regulatory staff recommends lower electric rates for Puget Sound Energy customers
Reduced rates would take effect Dec. 1
Olympia, Wash. – State regulatory staff today recommended Puget Sound Energy (PSE) reduce electric rates, not raise them, rejecting the company’s claim it needs additional revenue to cover power-supply costs.
In July, PSE asked the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) for a 0.02 percent rate hike they say is needed largely to pay costs of operating three electricity-generating plants: Snoqualmie Falls, Lower Baker River and Ferndale. Snoqualmie Falls is a 100-year-old hydroelectric plant in King County that produces 54 megawatts of power. Lower Baker River is a hydroelectric plant in Skagit and Whatcom counties built in 1925 that produces 30 megawatts. Ferndale, formerly known as Tenaska, is a 290-megawatt gas-turbine plant in Whatcom County purchased by PSE last year.
However, in testimony filed today, the UTC’s regulatory staff recommended the company lower electric revenues by 0.77 percent beginning Dec. 1.
The three-member commission, which is not bound by the staff recommendation, will make a final decision on the utility’s request this fall.
If the UTC adopts the Commission staff’s position, an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours would see his or her electric bill decrease beginning Dec. 1 by 0.81 percent, or $0.79 a month, for an average bill of $96.29. The utility’s revenues would decrease by about $15.8 million a year. Natural-gas rates are not affected.
The company filed its original request April 25 under a 12-year-old provision called a Power Cost Only Rate Case (PCORC), which allows PSE to file periodically for adjustments to electricity rates based solely on changes in power-supply and fuel costs necessary to meet customer demand. The PCORC does not consider the company’s other costs, such as operating and maintenance, salaries, equipment and taxes, which are addressed in more comprehensive general rate cases.
Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy provides electricity service to more than 1.1 million electric customers living in eight Washington counties: King, Pierce, Island, Kitsap, Kittitas, Skagit, Whatcom and Thurston.
The UTC is the state agency in charge of regulating private, investor-owned electric 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.