SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Public Counsel Unit today challenged PacifiCorp’s proposed $20 million electricity rate increase over two years, and instead recommended the utility’s rates be reduced as much as $4.5 million. Public Counsel believes the increase for residential customers is unsupported by the evidence.
Prior to this request, PacifiCorp, an electric utility with 128,000 customers in Washington, has received five rate increases since 2010, raising rates more than $20 per month for the average customer.
“After five increases in recent years, PacifiCorp has simply not made the case for even higher bills over the next two years,” said Ferguson. “Our duty is to serve as a watchdog for consumers and ratepayers, and my office will oppose unfair and unwarranted rate hikes.”
Ferguson’s Public Counsel Unit filed expert testimony today with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) analyzing a number of elements of PacifiCorp’s proposal. Highlights of the testimony include recommendations that the UTC:
- Reject the company’s request for accelerated depreciation on PacifiCorp’s Jim Bridger coal plant. This change alone would eliminate most of the requested increase for the first year.
- Remove over $2 million for employee costs and pension expenses which Public Counsel argues are overstated
- Reduce the request by an additional $1.6 million related to subsequent tax-law changes and disputed accounting treatment of capital investments
- Reject the proposed second-year rate increase. Rate increases have not historically been allowed for multiple future years, because cost projections become less reliable in out-years.
If the UTC accepts all of the AG’s recommendations, PacifiCorp’s electric rates would be reduced by $4.5 million per year below current levels.
PacifiCorp will have an opportunity in April to file rebuttal testimony addressing Public Counsel and other parties’ recommendations. The UTC will hold hearings in May under the expedited schedule adopted by the commission.
The final rates will be set by the commission after reviewing the evidence submitted by the parties. A decision is expected in summer 2015.
Members of the public can comment on the rate case in a number of ways.
Public comment hearings before UTC commissioners:
- April 25, 2016
6 - 7:30 p.m.
Yakima Council Chambers
129 North 2nd Street
Yakima, WA 98901
- April 26, 2016
12 - 1:30 p.m.
Walla Walla Council Chambers
15 North 3rd Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Written comments may be sent to UTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA, 98504, or email email@example.com. Include your name and mailing address, the name of the company (PacifiCorp), and docket no. UE 152253.
For more information, customers may contact either the UTC or Public Counsel:
- UTC – (800) 562-6150, email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is available online at www.wutc.wa.gov. Enter docket no. UE 152253 in the search field (number only).
- Attorney General’s Office Public Counsel Unit -- Public Counsel, Attorney General’s Office, 800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104-3188, or email email@example.com
The 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 www.atg.wa.gov/about-public-counsel.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office 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. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov