Pacific Power filed a general rate case, along with its annual power cost forecast, with the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The general rate case, which proposes a 6.6 percent rate adjustment, or $82.2 million, supports continued investments in wildfire mitigation strategies, vegetation management and clean energy resources, while also responding to inflationary impacts. If approved, this would be Pacific Power’s first general rate increase in nearly a decade.
“Through careful stewardship on behalf of our customers, we have delivered safe, reliable, affordable service at prices that are 12 percent below the national average,” said Matt McVee, vice president of regulatory policy and operations. “While our essential operating costs continue to stay low, new factors – including extreme weather events and changing economic conditions impacting all households and businesses – are raising the costs of providing our essential services.”
The company’s annual power cost forecast (Transition Adjustment Mechanism or TAM) is being filed concurrently with the rate case. The initial forecast shows power costs increasing for the first time in five years, if approved. The proposed 5.6 percent increase for rates effective in 2023 is primarily due to inflationary pressures related to increases in wholesale electricity and natural gas commodity prices. The final approved 2023 TAM rate will be updated in November with the most current forecasted prices for wholesale energy and natural gas.
The proposed TAM increase is well below the U.S. Consumer Price Index for the energy sector and energy services, which increased 27 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, over the last 12 months. The TAM increase is lower in part due to Pacific Power’s expansion of low-cost, zero-carbon renewable resources and its participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). The EIM enables access to even more low-cost, zero-carbon energy across the entire Western U.S. market while reducing emissions and increasing reliability. Since Pacific Power helped form the EIM in 2014, it has provided its Oregon customers with $102 million in savings through year-end 2021 and $24 million of expected benefits in the 2023 TAM.
“We are in a period of significant change. We are investing in the safety, adaptability and resilience of our energy grid and building to a net zero emissions energy future,” said McVee. “While we do this, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our customers and our communities and will continue to seek new ways to reduce impacts to customer bills along the way.”
Pacific Power Plans New Rate Discount for Low Income Customers
Later this year, Pacific Power plans to work with the commission to develop an on-bill rate discount to support customers who are experiencing income restraints. This will be separate from the current rate process to allow for faster adoption of the proposed rate discount, enabling us to mitigate the impact of the proposed rate increase for our most vulnerable community members.
The public review process for a general rate case can take up to 10 months. During that time, the public can provide input on the filing. The commission has the authority to set final rates that may be lower or higher than the company’s request, depending on the outcome of its examination. The public is also invited to take part in public meetings. To learn more, visit: oregon.gov/puc/utilities/Pages/Rates-Tariffs.aspx.
Pacific Power’s most vulnerable customers can access a variety of bill support programs through local community action agencies, including the Oregon Energy Fund, Oregon Energy Assistance Program, COVID Energy Assistance Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. In 2020, more than 30,000 of Pacific Power’s customers in Oregon received $13.8 million in support toward their bill payments.
Pacific Power also offers a variety of ways to budget for energy expenses, including time of use and equal pay billing options, and energy use tracking offered online and through the company’s app. In partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power customers can tap into information and rebates to help improve their energy efficiency and lower their bills. Customers can call 1-888-221-7070 to discuss options.
Source: Pacific Power