SEATTLE – Yakima and Walla Walla residents will not feel the burden of a proposed rate hike by Pacific Power. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) this week denied the company’s request for a nearly 18 percent rate increase, agreeing with arguments made by the Washington State Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section and other opposing parties.
“The Public Counsel Section stands up for consumers who would not otherwise have an effective voice regarding utility rates,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “The Utilities and Transportation Commission’s decision this week is good news for Eastern Washington residents who won’t have to pay higher rates, which we believe unfairly shifted the cost of PacifiCorps’ growth in Utah to Washington consumers.”
PacifiCorp does business in Washington as Pacific Power & Light Co., with 122,227 electric customers in five counties: Columbia, Garfield, Kittitas, Walla Walla and Yakima. The utility serves the cities of Sunnyside, Selah, Pomeroy, Yakima, Toppenish, Walla Walla and Dayton.
In denying Pacific Power’s request, the state UTC on Monday said the company failed to show the extent to which the company’s out-of-state facilities benefited Washington ratepayers.
“Commissioners agreed with arguments made by Public Counsel and other parties,” Public Counsel Chief Simon ffitch said, “when they found that Pacific Power didn’t demonstrate that its allocation of power-supply costs among the six states it serves was fair to Washington ratepayers who would be forced to consume those costs.”
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.
On May 5, PacifiCorp requested a nearly 18 percent increase in its general electricity rates in order to procure an additional $39.2 million in annual revenue. Under the proposal, the average residential customer in Washington would have seen a $5 increase in his or her monthly bill.
Public Counsel filed testimony with the UTC in November 2005 objecting to the proposal and contending that PacifiCorp should receive an increase of no more than $13.6 million and possibly far less.
Also at issue in the case is the method that will be used to allocate costs across PacifiCorp’s multi-state customer base. PacifiCorp requested that the WUTC approve the company’s “Revised Protocol,” a term PacifiCorp uses to describe a method for allocating costs among the six states where it operates. The UTC rejected the allocation formula, which Public Counsel asserted would improperly allocate Utah costs to Washington.
Other parties, including UTC staff, also filed testimony and briefs opposing the increase.
A copy of the commission’s order is available at the UTC’s Web site: www.wutc.wa.gov/050684
Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432
Simon ffitch, Public Counsel Section Chief, (206) 389-2055
Editor’s Note: The spelling of Simon ffitch is correct – the surname begins with two lowercase f’s.