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News Release
Commission Adopts Electric Industry Restructuring Change
November 1, 2002 (2002 - 031)
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – This week the Oregon Public Utility Commission took steps to jump start Oregon’s competitive retail market. In response to a request made by Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities (ICNU), the Commission approved a five-year plan that allows large commercial industrial customers of Portland General Electric to pay a fixed transition charge if they decide to have their energy provided by an Electric Energy Supplier (ESS) or a daily pricing option from Portland General Electric.
"This is something large industrial users asked for, and we are trying to accommodate them so that they will have better access to other suppliers in the marketplace," Commission Chairman Roy Hemmingway said. "It’s a step toward creating the competitive retail energy market that was envisioned by supporters of the restructuring law."
The change is only available to customers whose average hourly demand is one megawatt or greater. One megawatt is equivalent to the electricity used by 750 homes.
Oregon’s 1999 Electric Industry Restructuring law gave the Public Utility Commission the responsibility to ensure costs are not shifted from one set of customers to another. Transition charges are designed to make sure that customers who buy from the market (through the utility or an ESS) do not shift costs to other customers.
Eligible commercial and industrial customers have been reluctant to choose power from suppliers competing with their local utility, since that option became available March 1, 2002. Many customers have said that the transition charges, which can vary from year to year, discouraged them from choosing an alternate supplier. The new change provides a fixed, predictable transition charge that will make it easier and more economic for customers to sign long-term deals with other suppliers of electricity.
Large customers may decide by November 8 to choose the five-year option. Customers who select the five-year option give up receiving the standard cost-of-service rate for at least five years. However, with a two-year notice, a customer can switch to any PGE option available to new customers for service after 2007.
Commission staff, PGE, competing suppliers and customer groups believe the five-year opt-out will spur movement toward direct access beginning January 1, 2003.
To date the Commission has certified seven Electric Service Suppliers to operate in the state.