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News Release
Commission Postpones Decision on PacifiCorp Rate Request
January 23, 2001 (2001-005)
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 postponed a decision on a request by PacifiCorp to raise electric rates by 3 percent starting February 1, 2001. The request would add $22.8 million to Pacific Power's revenues.
On a split vote of one to one, the Commission rejected the company's request to waive the normal 30-day requirement to consider rate requests.
Commissioner Joan Smith voted in support of the waiver, while Commission Chairman Ron Eachus cast the dissenting vote. Commissioner Roger Hamilton was unavailable.
"It may well be justified but I didn't feel comfortable approving a 3 percent increase with such short notice, especially when there are a lot of questions about plant outages and why a company with enough resources to serve load has such high costs in the market," said Commission Chairman Ron Eachus.
Because the waiver was not granted the Commission will reconsider the issue at its February 20, 2001 meeting.
PUC staff had recommended the company be allowed to recover 3 percent of deferred excess net power costs.
"I have no doubt the $22.8 million is justified and agree with the staff's recommendation." Commissioner Joan Smith said. "Current prices are highly volatile. I fear if we do not act now customers could face a huge increase later."
PacifiCorp filed the request in an effort to pass on rising energy costs to customers. It would raise residential rates by 2.5 percent. The bill for typical residential customer using 1,022 kWh per month would increase by $1.66.
The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities (ICNU) opposed the waiver. They testified without adequate information they could not draw an accurate conclusion for the correct amount of the company's net power costs and how much should be passed on to customers.
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