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News Release
 
Four Utilities file 2006 Taxes with Commission for Rate Adjustments
 
October 15, 2007 (2007-014)
 
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, Oregon – Today the utilities covered by the 2005 Oregon Utility Tax Law, which include Portland General Electric (PGE), PacifiCorp, NW Natural Gas, and Avista Utilities, provided the Commission with their 2006 tax filings. The Commission will launch a formal proceeding to review the filings and determine if customer rates should be adjusted.
 
According to the filings customers of Portland General Electric (PGE) may receive a $37 million refund, while customers of Avista Natural Gas may get back $1.1 million. In contrast, PacifiCorp customers may have to pay an additional $38 million and Northwest Natural customers $1.694 million.
 
“Our job is to make sure the filings are accurate and that customers are treated fairly,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. “The Commission has 180 days to review the filings. Depending on the outcome customers will see either a rate credit or a rate surcharge effective June 1, 2008.”
 
The utility tax law is designed to ensure that the amount collected for taxes in customer rates matches the amount paid by utilities to taxing authorities. 
 
In 2005 the legislature passed Senate Bill 408 in response to citizen frustrations arising from Enron’s ownership of PGE.  In that case, the PUC set rates based on the assumption that the utility would pay taxes to units of government.  However, because of Enron’s losses in other businesses that offset their tax liability, almost none of the assumed taxes collected from PGE customers were ever paid to local taxing authorities.
 
SB 408 requires utilities to file annual tax reports to determine the difference between the amount collected in rates, and taxes actually paid by the utility.  The law applies to utilities with more than 50,000 customers.
 
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