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News Release
Commission Approves Rate Adjustments for Utility Taxes
April 11, 2008 (2008-010) (UE-177, UE-178, UG-170, UG-171)
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, Ore.  Customers of Portland General Electric (PGE) and Avista Natural Gas will get rate decreases on June 1, 2008, while customers of PacifiCorp and NW Natural gas will see an increase as a result of action today by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
The Commission action is the first implementation of a controversial state law, Senate Bill 408, which was passed in the 2005 legislative session. The law grew out of a concern that utilities were collecting more in taxes as part of customer rates than they were paying out to governments. The law requires utilities to “true up” rates for amounts of taxes actually paid, resulting in either a refund or surcharge.
“We did what the legislature directed us to do,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. “Customers can rest assured the amount in their rates that go to paying utility taxes are matched up with monies sent to federal, state and local governments.”
The law was first applied to the 2006 tax year which utilities reported in the fall of 2007. The Commission and utility advocacy groups have reviewed those reports and the following tax-related adjustments have been approved by the Commission.
  • PGE customers to receive $37.2 million refund or 1.4% decrease
  • Avista Natural Gas customers to receive $1.5 million or 1.9% decrease
  • PacifiCorp customers to pay $34.5 million or 3.0% increase
  • Northwest Natural Gas customers to pay $1.65 million or 3.8%  increase
PGE’s average residential customer who uses 900 KWh per month will see their bill drop by $1.10.
Avista Natural Gas customers who use 50 therms a month will see their bill reduced by $1.00.
PacifiCorp residential customers who use 1000 KWh per month will pay $2.05 more.
In the case of NW Natural, customers would have paid $1.65 million. However, unrelated to the tax issue, the one-time payment will be offset by customer credits, so a customer who uses 54 therms a month will receive a one-time reduction of $8.37.
SB 408 became effective for the first time for the 2006 tax year.  The law applies to utilities with more than 50,000 customers.