Thursday, December 5, 2013
Power bills will warm up this month.
State regulators on Wednesday said they have approved a roughly 5.5 percent overall rate increase for Pacific Power electric customers.
The new rates will take effect Dec. 10. The average residential customer using 1,300 kilowatt hours per month will see an increase of $6, for a monthly total of $112.48.
For residential customers the basic service charge will climb from $6 to $7.75 a month. That charge is paid by all customers regardless of how much electricity is used.
The amount approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is about one-third of Pacific Power’s requested increase.
The company had asked for a 14.1 percent increase in additional revenue — or permission to capture $42.9 million in revenue.
Under the approved rates, Pacific Power will collect another $16.7 million.
That represents a 7.36 percent overall rate of return, versus the originally requested 7.8 percent the energy company originally sought, according to Wednesday’s announcement.
“The commission’s responsibility in general rate case proceedings is to determine an appropriate balance between the needs of the public to have safe and reliable electric service at reasonable rates, and the financial ability of the utility to provide such services on an ongoing basis,” the three-member Utilities and Transportation Commission wrote in its decision.
Pacific Power, a division of Portland-based PacifiCorp which is owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., is currently authorized for a 7.74 percent rate of return.
The adjustment to the rate of return accounts for about $6.4 million of the $26.1 million difference between the company’s rate increase request and what was approved, the UTC said.
Other major difference between the request and the decision, the UTC continued, include a $13.8 million reduction in power supply costs and $2.4 million less in recovery of investments.
Regulators OK’d an 18 percent increase in funding for Pacific Power’s low-income assistance program. The increase from $1.7 million to $2 million will benefit about 5,200 qualifying participants.
Of the 86 public comments received by the UTC on the proposed rate increase, 75 were opposed; one was in favor; and 10 were undecided.
Pacific Power provides electric service to about 132,000 customers in five Eastern Washington counties, including Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield.
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8321.