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PacifiCorp settlements decrease customer rates

Docket number: UE-191024

PacifiCorp settlements decrease customer rates

Olympia, Wash. - PacifiCorp customers in Washington will see lower electric rates in 2021.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission today approved two settlements that will decrease electricity rates for PacifiCorp customers beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

The settlements — agreed to by PacifiCorp, UTC staff, and other stakeholders — include an immediate decrease of $4.15 million, or 1.18%, in revenue for PacifiCorp, a notable change from the $11 million, or 3.2%, increase the company earlier requested.

Under the agreements, a residential customer’s electricity bill will decrease about 0.53% in 2021. An average residential customer using 1,200 kilowatt-hours will see a decrease of $0.55, for a monthly bill of $103.81.

The rate decrease is due in part to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced the taxes owed by PacifiCorp, but which the company had collected and must return to customers. It is also due in part to a $1.48 million reduction in Washington depreciation rates for certain facilities and investments.

In the agreement, PacifiCorp will form a new low-income bill assistance advisory group and develop a disconnection reduction plan to help keep customers’ service connected. The agreement will remain in effect for three years and allows PacifiCorp to make a limited filing in 2021 for the commission to review major assets put in service after May 1, 2020 and refund to customers any costs the commission does not find to be prudent.

The agreement also requires PacifiCorp to submit a power-cost-only rate case in 2021 to update expected costs for power in 2022, which could change customers’ rates beginning in 2022.

Under a separate agreement, the company agreed to accelerate the depreciation of Colstrip Unit 4 and Jim Bridger coal-fired power plants to meet Washington’s clean energy goals.

The UTC held a virtual public comment hearing Aug. 5, and the commission received 14 public comments on PacifiCorp’s updated request for a rate increase, all opposed.

Parties to the depreciation settlement in this docket include the company and UTC staff, the Public Counsel Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, and the Packaging Corporation of America; parties to the other settlement resolving all other contested items also include The Energy Project and Walmart.

Portland, Ore.-based PacifiCorp is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy of Des Moines, Iowa. The company provides electric service to about 130,000 customers in six Eastern Washington counties: Kittitas, Columbia, Garfield, Benton, Walla Walla, and Yakima. Cities in the company’s service territory include College Place, Dayton, Grandview, Naches, Pomeroy, Prescott, Selah, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Union Gap, Waitsburg, Walla Walla, Wapato, Yakima, and Zillah.

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.?