Avista Files Rate Case!

The Public Utilities Commission has begun its lengthy review of a complex rate case filed by Idaho Power, which is seeking an increase in customer rates of an average of 10 percent. Rocky Mountain Power has also filed a rate case seeking an increase of 7.2 percent. And now the PUC is processing a rate case filed by Avista Utilities, which serves parts of northern Idaho.

The public will soon have opportunities to provide their comments in the case through public workshops, hearings, and also by providing written comments directly to the PUC. To review Idaho Power’s filings and related documents, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then “File Room” and “Electric Cases” and scroll to IPC-E-11-08. In the rate case by Spokane-based Avista, the company is seeking an average 3.7 percent increase for its electric customers and 2.7 percent for its gas customers. According to the PUC, a typical electric customer would see a bill increase from $83.81 a month to $86.87. The average gas bill would rise from $60.76 to $62.91. That’s on top of additional electric and gas rate hikes that will take place this October as the second part of a three-part overall rate hike in Avista’s 2010 rate case. That case saw much larger rate hikes that were spread over three years to reduce their impacts.

To review Avista’s rate case filing and related documents, go to www.puc.idaho.gov and then click on “File Room” and then “Electric Cases” and scroll to AVU-E-11-01 for the electric case and AVU-G-11-01 for the gas case.

WHAT TO SAY IN YOUR COMMENTS:

Respectfully tell the PUC to require a hearing so the public can explain why Avista’s energy efficiency programs are not far enough reaching into low income populations to warrant a rate increase at this time. Tell Avista to stop submitting rate hikes during an economic downturn!

ICAN wants you to respectfully submit your comments to the public utilities commission on upcoming rate cases!

ICAN members can comment on Idaho’s electric utility rate cases because two of Idaho’s three big utilities (Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power) have filed requests for rate hikes with the Public Utilities Commission. The third utility may file its request for rate increases in the near future (Avista).

Idaho Power, which serves most of southern Idaho, and Rocky Mountain Power, which serves the southeast part of the state, filed their “general rate case” applications with the Public Utilities Commis-sions (PUC) in the past month. Avista Utilities, which serves parts of northern Idaho, has not yet filed its case but may do so soon.

Rate cases are the way utilities seek to recover the costs of serving their customers, but there’s more to these cases than it first seems. Rate cases provide utility customers a way to express concerns we might have about how our utilities operate, or whether we think the utilities are doing enough to provide affordable, clean energy. This is the time to tell utility companies in a polite way that we want our rates kept as low as possible and that we want our energy as clean as possible.

The PUC (http://www.puc.state.id.us/) will accept comments on the applications at any time, and you can comment going to the PUC’s site and then clicking the “Comments and Questions About a Case” link. You can also review the applications and supporting testimony and other materials at the links below. Whether you comment now or in the coming months, your respectfully submitted comments will be reviewed by PUC commissioners and staff.

In the case of Idaho Power (http://www.puc.idaho.gov/internet/cases/summary/IPCE1108.html), Idaho’s largest electric utility is seeking an increase in its base rates of about $83 million, or a 9.9 percent overall average rate increase, and an 8.8 percent increase for residential customers. That’s a huge increase and one that’s hard to defend.

  •  It’s not a bad idea for Idaho Power to ask the PUC to allow changes in its pricing structure that will help promote energy savings by discouraging heavy power consumption during peak times—but many low income people are left footing the bill if they have energy inefficient homes.
  •  The company is also asking that a “decoupling” mechanism that promotes energy efficiency programs be moved from a pilot program to a permanent rate mechanism. Decoupling will help ensure that future energy saving measures are not starved for funding simply because they are successful.
  •  The President and Chief Executive of Idaho Power made more than $3 Million in 2010. It seems that a rate increase given these kind of wages for executives is just plain greedy.

In the case of Rocky Mountain Power (http://www.puc.idaho.gov/internet/cases/summary/PACE1112.html), the utility is relying on its dirty coal-plant operations. Rocky Mountain Power is seeking an average customer rate increase of 15 percent, or 7.2 percent for residential customers.

  •  More than half of Rocky Mountain Power’s $32.7 million rate increase is due to increases in power supply costs, including increased coal costs.
  •  Thirty-one percent of the requested increase is due to capital additions, including investment in transmis-sion, pollution control equipment, and hydro generation plants.
  •  A. Richard Walje is president of Rocky Mountain Power at PacifiCorp and made more than $1.5 Million in 2010. That’s a lot of money considering the proposed rate increase.

Let the PUC and your own utilities know how you feel about these rate cases and that you value affordable rates over non-essential rate increases during these hard economic times.

The PUC will need legal justification to say no, so they will need other options. The PUC, by law, must prove the changes are necessary and are they prudently incurred. Comments should also show the areas of misplaced resources.

Here are some options to include in your comments:

Idaho Power Comments

  •  ICAN values energy efficiency as long it continues to be affordable for low income people who often do not have money for energy efficiency upgrades or new appliances to curb usage.
  •  The proposed rate increase is simply too much given the $142.8 Million in profit in 2010. More of the yearly profits of Idaho Power should go towards changing infrastructure needs instead of funneling all the costs to rate payers.

Rocky Mountain Power Comments

  •  If Rocky Mountain Power is committed to cleaning up its act, why not completely phase out coal and instead invest in renew-able energy?
  •  We don’t want to pay more for more dirty coal energy. Investing in cleaner energy will spur our economy and provide more jobs and training.
  •  Rocky Mountain Power is a subsidiary of PacifiCorp and is owned by MidAmerican Energy which is ulti-mately owned by Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world. That’s an awful lot of profiteering for a company that wants to make such an extreme rate hike