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News Release
Commission Directs Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp to Execute Contracts for the Benefit of Residential and Small-farm Customers
Sept. 23, 2008 (2008-024)
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. Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission directed Portland General Electric (PGE) and PacifiCorp to enter into contracts with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to allow the flow of benefits to residential and small farm customers.
Customer benefits for both utilities are significantly lower than previous levels. The benefit for PGE customers is estimated at $50 million, a reduction of $25 million or 33%.  The benefit for PacifiCorp’s Oregon customers is estimated at $22 million, a $30 million or 58% reduction.
“Unfortunately, under BPA’s proposed plan the lion’s share of benefits from the region’s hydroelectric system continue to go to the state of Washington.  Our Congressional delegation needs to revise the outdated Northwest Power Act so benefits can be distributed fairly throughout the region, not just a select number of utilities,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. “I think all Oregonian families deserve their share of the system regardless which utility they get their energy from.”
The residential exchange benefits are passed through to customers by the utilities that serve them. Typically no power is exchanged. Instead investor-owned utilities receive cash payments from BPA to reduce rates for residential and small-farm customers.
PGE will adjust its rates in January. PacifiCorp will adjust its rates sometime in November. This adjustment occurs in the aftermath of a federal court decision last year that severely reduced benefits for Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp which in response had to raise rates by 13%.  In April of this year the Commission endorsed an interim rate plan that lowered rates by over 6% for residential and small-farm customers of PGE. PacifiCorp’s rates did not change.
For the past year the Commission has been active in regional discussions and BPA proceedings regarding the level of federal system benefits available to residential and small-farm customers. While the Commission disagrees with the BPA on its policy and decision making, the contracts act as the vehicle for the benefits. If the contracts are not approved, utilities, on behalf of their customers, would not receive any federal system benefits after September 30, 2008.