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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2013
Attorney General’s Public Counsel to PacifiCorp: Reduce proposed 15 percent residential rate hike

SEATTLE — The Public Counsel Unit of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office (AGO) today challenged the electric rate increases proposed by PacifiCorp, which operates in Washington as Pacific Power and Light Company.

The Portland-based utility is requesting rates that would generate an additional $42.8 million in revenue from its Washington electric customers. Public Counsel believes the rate request is too high.  

“The Attorney General’s Office advocates on behalf of consumers in utility rate cases,” said Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson. “PacifiCorp operates in six states, so the Attorney General’s Office wants to ensure that Washington customers are paying costs associated with Washington operations.”

“We are concerned about the proposal to dramatically increase customer reconnection fees imposed when a customer seeks to be reconnected after being disconnected for non-payment,” said Assistant Attorney General Lisa W. Gafken. “The increase is double or more than double the current charge, depending on the specific fee. These fees are generally borne by the most vulnerable of PacifiCorp’s customers, and the Company’s proposal would unnecessarily burden these customers, making reconnection more difficult.”

Public Counsel filed expert testimony today that analyzes a number of elements of PacifiCorp’s proposal. Highlights of the testimony include recommendations that the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC):

  • Reject modifications to the Company’s reconnection fees and permanent disconnection fees.
  • Reject the Company’s request to increase the customer charge by 67 percent, raising the basic monthly charge customers pay from $6 to $10 per month. Public Counsel recommends a smaller increase.
  • Remove the $10.7 million costs associated with purchasing power from approximately 60 small generators in Oregon and California because those small generators produce electricity that primarily serve their local markets.
  • Reduce labor costs and executive compensation to reflect lower employee numbers and to bring executive compensation in line with market averages.
  • Accept the Company’s proposal to measure certain costs closer to the time when rates would take effect as a way to reduce lag in cost recovery.

If the UTC accepts Public Counsel’s adjustments, PacifiCorp’s electric rate request would be reduced by approximately $23 million. Other parties, such as Commission Staff or the Industrial Customers of NW Utilities, may recommend additional reductions in other areas.

PacifiCorp will have an opportunity to file rebuttal testimony addressing Public Counsel and other parties’ recommendations.  Hearings will be held in late August, and a Commission decision is expected no later than December 2013.

In March 2011, the UTC authorized a rate increase of approximately $38 million, and in June 2012, PacifiCorp was authorized to raise its rates by another $4.5 million.  PacifiCorp serves approximately 132,000 electric customers in Yakima, Walla Walla, Garfield, and Columbia Counties.  

PUBLIC COMMENT

Members of the public can comment on the rate case in a number of ways.
The UTC will hold two public comment hearings:

  • Yakima:  Monday, July 15, 2013, from 6:00–7:30 p.m., in the Yakima City Council Chambers, 129 North 2nd Street, Yakima, Washington.  
  • Walla Walla:  Tuesday, July 16, 2013, from 12:00–1:30 p.m., in the Walla Walla City Council Chambers, 15 North 3rd Avenue, Walla Walla, Washington.  


Written comments may be sent to UTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA, 98504, or e-mail comments@utc.wa.gov. Include your name and mailing address, the name of the company (PacifiCorp), and docket no. UE 130043.

For more information, customers may contact either the UTC or AGO:

  • UTC:  (800) 562-6150, e-mail at comments@wutc.wa.gov. Information is available online at www.wutc.wa.gov. Enter docket no. UE 130043.
  • AGO Public Counsel Divison:  Public Counsel, Attorney General’s Office, 800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104-3188, or e-mail utility@atg.wa.gov

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal officer for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

The AGO Public Counsel Unit advocates for the interests of consumers on major rate cases, mergers, rulemakings, and other proceedings before the UTC. More information about Public Counsel’s work is available online at http://www.atg.wa.gov/Utilities/AboutPublicCounsel.aspx.


Contacts:
Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, 360-586-0725
Lisa W. Gafken, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 464-6595               

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