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News Release
Commission Grants PacifiCorp Rate Hike Request
February 20, 2001 (2001-009)
Contacts: Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR - The Oregon Public Utility Commission today approved a 3 percent rate increase for Oregon customers of PacifiCorp effective February 21 to help recover some of the expense of extraordinarily high power costs incurred since last November.
The monthly bill for a typical residential customer using 1,022 kWh per month will increase by $1.66, from $65.34 to $67.00, or 2.55 percent.
Because the deferral is a contested case, the amount is subject to refund. A prudence review by PUC staff will be completed by October 1, 2001.
The Commission postponed a decision on the company's request last month due to lingering questions related to power costs and the unexpected failure of a PacifiCorp power plant in Utah.
The Commission agreed the increase is justified at this time due to reduced output from the company's hydro resources and generally high market prices.
The Company had accumulated $114 million in its deferred account for purchase power costs from November through January.
The order allows the company to begin collecting 3 percent, or $22.8 million, in the deferred account.
By law, the deferred accounting mechanism, limits a one-time annual increase of no more than 3 percent of the company's previous annual revenues for "unusual" circumstances.
"It was clear that even if the cost to replace the out-of-service plant were excluded, the company still incurred costs higher than the 3 percent increase allowed by law," Ron Eachus Commission Chairman said. "However, the rest of the power costs the company still wants in rates later is a much more serious matter."
Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities (ICNU) opposed the request. ICNU said the issues associated with PacifiCorp's increased power costs should be addressed in its ongoing rate case.
The Citizens' Utility Board joined ICNU in voicing concerns over how much the company is spending to purchase higher-cost short-term power in order to fulfill long-term wholesale sales contracts, outside of its service territory, at prices below those in the market.
PacifiCorp serves approximately 516,000 customers in Oregon in southern, west-central and northeast Oregon.
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