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Pacific Power raises energy rates in California

By Sibyl Walski  January 3, 2007 Mr. Shasta News

If you are one of the 45,000 customers Pacific Power serves in northern California, you are about to pay more for the privilege.

In a press release dated December 28, the company announced that, effective January 1, 2007, residential customers will be charged 13.3 percent more than last year.

Companies and industries of any size will see an increase of 7.7 percent.

By comparison, KTVL-TV in Medford reported a 5 percent increase for customers overall, a number confirmed by Bekki Witt, spokesperson for Pacific Power.

Witt said the discrepancy is due to the fact that separate rate cases must be filed in each state, and the PUC determinations will be specific to each state.

In California, the company requested a 15.6 percent increase overall. In Oregon, a 13.2 percent increase amounting to $112 million was requested.

What they got in California was an overall 10.8 percent increase amounting to $7.3 million. Oregon's PUC allowed 5 percent, which translates to $43 million.

Witt pointed out that the last rate increase case in California was filed in Dec. 2001, requesting an overall price increase of 29 percent.

An interim increase of $4.8 million was granted in June 2002 and a final $2.8 million granted in Nov. 2003, for a total 13.6 percent increase and $7.64 million.

Before that, said Witt, the last rate case was filed in 1996 and resulted in a decrease in prices in 1998.

The CPUC website indicates that the commissioners granted an “unopposed settlement of a 2007 test year revenue requirement of PacifiCorp (and) a revenue allocation and rate design settlement.”

This was disputed only by the Klamath Water Users Association, which wanted discounted rates on the grounds that its irrigation members actually returned water to the Klamath River.

The Division of Ratepayer Advocates in July disagreed, arguing that the deficit would have to be paid by other customers.

The KWUA, composed of approximately 20 public agencies, is mostly irrigation districts for various agricultural-based businesses in and around the Upper Klamath River Basin.

On December 17, 2006, Commissioner Geoffrey Brown found in favor of PacifiCorp and denied KWUA's request for a rate credit.

After the test year, PacifiCorp is also authorized to adjust for inflation and changes in power costs on January 1, 2008 and 2009, in addition to the price change customers will see this year.

PacifiCorp claims that even with the price changes and subsequent adjustments, it is charging less on average to California customers than it did 10 years ago. It also states that its “average rate remains the lowest among other investor-owned utilities serving California.”

Between Pacific Power and Rocky Mountain Power, PacifiCorp counts about 1.7 million customers in six Western states.


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