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News Release
 
Commission Expands Energy Choices For Consumers
 
March 20, 2001 (2001 - 012)
 
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 new energy portfolio options that will be available to residential and small nonresidential customers of Portland General Electric (PGE) and PacifiCorp this fall. The portfolio includes incentives to create new sources of energy, maintains traditional cost-of-service rates, and will offer consumers more choices and options than they have ever had before.
 
"We're keeping the protections the residential and small commercial customers have always had, at the same time giving them options they don't have now, and these options are important to our energy future," said Commission Chairman Ron Eachus.
 
Oregon's 1999 restructuring law requires the state's two largest investor-owned utilities to provide a market-based rate option and at least one option providing power from new renewable resources by October 1, 2001. The current cutoff for a small nonresidential customer is 30 kilowatts.
 
In addition to cost-of-service rate always received, consumers will be able to choose a "time-of-use rate," a "renewable resources block product," a "renewable resources blended product," and an "environmental mitigation option."
 
Each utility will submit to the PUC for approval portfolio rate tariffs by June 1, 2001. The Commission will act on the rates August 1, 2001 and the utilities will send enrollment materials to customers in Mid-August.
 
Senate Bill 1149 passed by the 1999 Oregon legislature requires the portfolio.
 
An advisory committee appointed by the Commission developed the portfolio options.
 
A "cost-of-service" rate, which consumers have now, will be the default option if a consumer does not to select any of the new portfolio options.
 
Consumers may exit portfolio options at any time, except for the "time-of-use" option, which requires a minimum commitment of one year.
 
"Time-of-use" rates will vary by time of day and season. When they sign up consumers will know what the rates are for the year. This option provides consumers with the ability to shift some of their power use from high-cost peak periods to times when rates are low by running the dishwasher at night, doing laundry on weekends to putting timers on water heaters, for example.
 
Under the "renewable resources block" option, consumers can buy a monthly "block" of power from wind for example. They will receive the cost-of-service rate for the remainder of their electricity needs.
 
The blended renewable option must contain at least 50% of renewable energy sources of which at least 15% must be from new sources. The remaining 50% can come from conventional sources of energy, but the system average emissions and carbon dioxide emissions must meet the Oregon siting standard.
 
Consumers that chose the "environmental mitigation option" will get a block of power from renewable resources that help restore threatened or endangered anadromous fish. Anadromous fish migrate up rivers from the sea to breed in fresh water.
 
The utilities will be responsible for an education and awareness campaign for all options. Consumers will receive enrollment materials in August.
 
Member organizations of the advisory committee include the Oregon Office of Energy, PacifiCorp, PGE, Citizens' Utility Board, Associated Oregon Industries, American Association of Retired Persons, Fair and Clean Energy Coalition, Renewable Northwest Project, League of Oregon Cities, City of Portland, Oregon Power Users Association and the PUC.
 
 
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Cost-of-Service
 
A "cost-of-service" option reflects the traditional method of setting rates based on the cost of existing utility resource. It is the way rates are currently set. It reflects the market only to the extent the utility must purchase power on the market to serve load. The cost-of-service rate will be the default option if a consumer does not to select any of the new portfolio options.
 
Fixed Time-of-Use Product
 
Prices are fixed for the year for periods pre-defined as on-peak, mid-peak, and off-peak.
 
The purpose is to motivate less on-peak usage without exposing the customer to significant risk or inconvenience. This gives customers greater ability to control their own bills and the customer will win or be held harmless.
 
Customers who choose this option will get a guarantee during the first year that they will be no worse off than if they had chosen the cost-of-service. The cost of providing meters will be figured into rates. However, it provides incentives for those willing to change their usage patterns to reduce their bills.
  • Enrollment will be allowed at any time, but the minimum term of the option is for 12 months.

  • This type of time-of-use design is the easiest and least costly to implement quickly, requiring only time-of-use metering and an effective education program

  • Reducing peak load will reduce the high wholesale price volatility and benefits the region by increasing the reliability of the transmission system and reducing the likelihood of energy shortages.

  • The option allows the utility to offer more sophisticated load control equipment for space and water heating. Consequently, utilities will submit a plan to the PUC by June 1, 2001, for a small load control pilot to test load equipment on the customer premises.
On-Peak (17% of hours):
Weekdays, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Dec., Jan., and Feb., also Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
June through Sept., also weekdays 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
 
Off-Peak (46% of hours):
Weekdays, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Saturdays, beginning at 9 p.m.
All day Sunday and six Federal holidays
 
Mid-Peak (38% of hours)
All other times
 
Renewable Resources
 
These options are designed to foster as much new generation from renewable energy as possible by building consumer demand through providing products and information about their benefits. There are two basic renewable energy based options:
 
Renewable Resources Block
 
Under the "renewable resources block" option, consumers can buy a monthly "block" of power from wind, for example. They will receive the cost-of-service rate for the remainder of their electricity needs.
 
Renewable Resources Blended Product
 
The "renewable resources blended" option must contain at least 50% of renewable energy sources of which at least 15% must be from new sources. The remaining 50% can come from conventional sources of energy, but the system regional average for system emissions and carbon dioxide must meet the Oregon siting standard.
 
Environmental Mitigation Product
 
Consumers that choose the "environmental mitigation" option will get a block of power from renewable resources that help restore threatened or endangered anadromous fish. Anadromous fish migrate up rivers from the sea to breed in fresh water.
 
There are two components. One, is the voluntary contribution dedicated to fish restoration, the other, is the renewable blended energy resource.
 
To Be Decided
  • Definition of small and large commercial customers
  • General Rates
  • Rates for Time-of-Use
  • Potential cost for switching
 
Key Dates
  • June 1, 2001-Utilities file tariffs with proposed rates
  • August 1-Final approval of tariffs by the Commission
  • Mid-August-Portfolio enrollment materials sent to customers
 
Ongoing-Recommendations to the Commission to change, add or drop portfolio options to accommodate use of public purpose funds, success or failure of options, and changing market conditions