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News Release
Commission Adopts Proposal to Adjust PGE Equal Pay Plan Bills
August 20, 2003 (2003 - 022)(UM 1105)
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – There is relief in store for thousands of customers on Portland General Electric’s (PGE’s) Equal Pay Plan who recently got an unexpected surprise when they received bills showing they owed hundreds of dollars each. In one case, the balance owed was over $1500.
A stipulation pushed for by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, and signed by PGE and the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB), will trim an estimated $635,000 from the $2.06 million amount owed and will pay customers $27,000 in interest.
Each customer’s adjustment will vary depending on his or her specific circumstances.
Customers on the Equal Pay Plan pay the same amount every month with their bill to be adjusted every 12 months. When PGE switched over to a new computer billing system it delayed making the annual adjustments.
"This has created hardships for many households and I’m pleased we were able to find a way to improve their situation," Commissioner Lee Beyer said. "Customers who chose the Equal Pay Plan were told their bills would be adjusted every 12 months and it clearly didn’t happen. While they did use the energy, the company should not be able to collect the entire amount owed because it did not live up to its end of the deal. PGE is to be applauded for its willingness to work with us to reach this fair and equitable agreement."
The company’s decision left at least 10,000 customers with larger bills than they expected. Some customers had gone 23 months without a bill adjustment.
The stipulation allows PGE to collect "true up" accounts accrued since they switched over their billing system in August 2002. The company will not be able to collect "true up" amounts before then, an amount equal to approximately $635,000. The company also agreed to pay five percent interest to customers who had a "credit" balance when the billing system change occurred, as a result of paying more for energy than they actually used.
Customers with balances owed through the Equal Pay Plan will still be able to spread out the payments over five years without interest.
PGE customers still on the Equal Pay Plan will have the adjustment automatically applied to their account.
PGE will also work to identify current customers who changed pay plans, and adjust their accounts as well.
For affected individuals who are no longer PGE customers, PGE will, upon request of the former customer, issue a refund if warranted. Former customers must contact PGE by August 20, 2004.