Public comments welcome at Oct. 12 hearing in Yakima
SEATTLE – A proposed all-party settlement has been reached that would substantially reduce the size of Pacific Power’s proposal to raise electric rates.
The Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section, which represents the public in utility rate cases, was prepared to challenge Pacific Power’s filing for a $38.5 million increase in revenues but believes that the agreement reached is a positive result for consumers.
Under the agreement, which still requires approval by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), residential and small-business customers would see a 5.3 percent increase to their monthly electric bills – instead of the 15.1 percent boost Pacific Power originally sought. The new rates would take effect Jan. 1, 2010. A typical residential customer using 1,300 kilowatt hours a month would see an increase of $4.79 to their bill under the agreement, instead of $13.76 under the original request.
Public Counsel, UTC Staff, Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities (ICNU), and The Energy Project, a low-income advocacy group, together reached a settlement with the company that was filed with the UTC on Aug. 25. The UTC staff’s recommendation to approve the agreement is not binding on the commission.
Public Counsel Assistant Attorney General Sarah Shifley said she believes the settlement benefits Pacific Power’s residential and small-business customers.
“In this current economic climate we recognize that any rate increase is difficult for Washington families,” Shifley said. “However, we believe that the settlement reached is a very positive resolution of this case, cutting $25 million from the original request.
Portland-based PacifiCorp, which does business locally under the name Pacific Power, serves nearly 130,000 customers in central and southeast Washington. The company filed its original request with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission in February. The settlement scales back the request as follows:
- Less additional revenue.
The company sought an additional $38.5 million in revenues by raising rates. Under the agreement, the company would be allowed to collect only $13.5 million in new revenues.
- No increase to the basic monthly charge.
The company’s originally requested to increase monthly basic charge that all residential customers pay regardless of the amount of electricity used to $7. The agreement includes no increase to the basic charge, which would remain at $6.
- No increase to shareholder rate of return.
Pacific Power had originally asked to increase its rate of return substantially. Under the settlement the rate of return will remain at the currently authorized level.
Pacific Power customers are invited to comment on the proposed agreement in person or in writing.
Customers have the chance to speak to UTC commissioners during a public hearing on Oct. 12 in Yakima at the Yakima Valley Community College, 1015 S. 16th Ave. The hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Parker Room.
Customer monthly bills will include a notice with details of the proposed agreement, as well as a detachable, pre-addressed comment form for customers to share their opinions with state regulators. As an alternative, customers can submit comments to the UTC via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, online at www.utc.wa.gov/comment, or by phone toll-free at 1-888-333-WUTC.
Details about the company’s proposed rate changes and the settlement agreement are online at www.utc.wa.gov. Enter Docket UE-090205.
The Public Counsel Section advocates for the interests of consumers on major rate cases, mergers and other rulemakings before the UTC. Public Counsel also advocates for consumers in court appeals, through technical study groups and before the Legislature and other policy makers. The office maintains contact with the public through a citizen advisory committee, community organizations, public hearings and personal contact with consumers in major cases. More information about Public Counsel’s work is available online athttp://www.atg.wa.gov/utilities.aspx.
Kristin Alexander, AGO Media Relations Manager - Seattle, (360) 464-6432, email@example.com
Sarah Shifley, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 464-6595