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May 16, 2005         73rd Session, Issue 10
Senator Doug Whitsett district 28, Oregon

followed by Willamette Week article

followed by  Senate Bill 1058 sponsored by Senator Whitsett

 (bold words were already included in this Press Release. KBC)

Dear Friends,

Most of us have lived long enough to discover that often words can mean very different things depending on who is using  them.  Let me provide you with a recent example.

Last Wednesday, a Portland newspaper, “Willamette Week,” named me their “Rogue of the week.”  Whether this distinction is dubious or admirable depends greatly on one’s point of view.  While the editors of Willamette Week certainly intended to impugn yours truly, my fellow caucus members gave me a standing ovation at last week’s caucus meeting.  Apparently it is nearly unprecedented for a freshman Senator to so quickly draw “Willamette Week’s” ire.

So what is the basis for this ire?  It has to do with my introduction of Senate Bill 1058.  As introduced, Senate Bill 1058 would have required electric utilities to mitigate potential “rate shock” that occurs when rate increases exceed 50 percent in any 12 month period.  The bill was  intended to protect all energy consumers against unsustainable utility rate increases.

 While the bill was written as a statewide measure, I admit that my most immediate concern was and is the water users of the Klamath Basin who face drastic utility rate increases when their negotiated contract with PacifiCorp expires next year.  The intent was not to cap the rates, but simply to spread potentially drastic rate increase out over a period of time.

After hours of negotiation and work we concluded that in order for the bill to receive wide support it would have do be tailored to the situation faced by the  irrigators who are parties to the contract.  I resisted attempts to tailor the bill.  I preferred to provide the protections that the bill offers to all ratepayers.  However, the tailoring was necessary to gain the wide support needed to pass the legislation and provide Klamath irrigators with much needed protection from “rate shock.”  I am very optimistic about passage.

I don’t doubt that to many people in Portland, the interests, concerns and way of life of rural Oregonians seem “roguish.”  That is why we have had to endure years of attack on our way of life.  They have shut down our forests, leaving us financially vulnerable and unable to provide effectively for our schools and communities.  They have imposed environmental restrictions and, and an endless number of boards, commissions, plans and administrative rules that always seem to neglect or marginalize the rural way of life.  They have meddled in our way of life and then complained that we are not financially able to “pull our own weight.”

That being the case, I won’t argue with the label of rogue.  As long as rogue means someone who is willing to stand up and protect the rural way of life from the meddling ways of those who do not understand it, I am happy to be a “rogue.”  I hope that you will continue to stand with me.



For Information on all the bills that Senator Whitsett is Sponsoring, visit his legislative Web site at:


Please Contact or Visit us in Salem

Senator Doug Whitsett
Party: R  District: 28
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE., S-302, Salem, OR, 97301
Email: sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/whitsett


Rogue of the Week

Sen. Doug Whitsett

newsdesk at wweek.com
We'll give this week's Rogue, Sen. Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls), an "A" for audacity but an "F'' for fairness and disclosure.

Whitsett is working to protect a sweet deal-of-nearly-a-century for some of his Southern Oregon constituents who farm in the Klamath Irrigation Project. The deal: their electricity costs haven't risen since 1917.

About 2,500 recipients get an annual subsidy from PacifiCorp totaling about $10 million, according to the Oregon Natural Resources Council. That's welfare unavailable to other Oregon farmers, let alone the average ratepayer. (Two of the gravy-trainers are Whitsett and K Falls' private Reames Golf & Country Club.)

The subsidy stems from a deal PacifiCorp's predecessor cut with the federal Bureau of Reclamation: In exchange for rights to exploit hydropower from Upper Klamath Lake, the utility would provide cheap power for irrigation pumps.

Of course, that subsidy doesn't really come out of PacifiCorp's pocket; instead, ratepayers, many of them Portlanders, make up the difference in higher rates.

Faced with expiration of their subsidy next year, the juice hogs appealed to both PacifiCorp and the state Public Utility Commission for some relief. No dice, both said.

So last month, Whitsett introduced Senate Bill 1058, a stealth bailout of the Klamath welfare kings masquerading as a consumer-protection measure.

The bill does not mention Klamath farmers. It does not mention PacifiCorp or any other specifics. It states only that if any group of utility customers faces a price hike of greater than 50 percent in any 12-month period, the PUC will step in to phase in said increase over seven years-which the ONRC says will cost another $20 million.

Whitsett was unavailable for comment.

"There's no justification for this subsidy continuing," says ONRC's Jim McCarthy.


                              Senate Bill 1058 sponsored by Senator Whitsett

73rd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2005 Regular Session
Senate Bill 1058
Sponsored by Senator WHITSETT


The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor˘s brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced.

Requires electric utility to mitigate rate increase that exceeds 50 percent during first 12 months that increase is in effect. Provides that mitigation be achieved by providing rate credits.  Declares emergency, effective on passage.


Relating to electricity rates; and declaring an emergency.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 1. Section 2 of this 2005 Act is added to and made a part of ORS 757.205 to
757.280. SECTION 2. (1) As used in this section, “electric utility” has the meaning given that term in ORS 757.600.

(2) If any rate increase proposed by an electric utility would result in an increase in the
cost of electricity for any class of customers of the electric utility described in subsection

(3) of this section that exceeds 50 percent during the first 12 months that the increase is in effect, the Public Utility Commission shall require the electric utility to mitigate the rate increase by providing rate credits to the class of customers. The rate credits provided by an electric utility under this section shall automatically decrease each year to the lowest credit necessary to avoid a rate increase that is greater than 50 percent in any subsequent year.

(3) This section applies to the following classes of customers:
(a) Customers who pay for electricity under the same rate schedule and who will experience a rate increase by reason of changes in the rate schedule; and
(b) Any group of customers that will experience a rate increase by reason of a transfer
to a different rate schedule.
(4) Notwithstanding subsection (2) of this section, the commission may not require that
an electric utility mitigate a rate increase for a class of customers if the electric utility requests a rate increase for all customers of the electric utility that is in excess of the limitation imposed by subsection (2) of this section and the commission finds that the increase is necessary to allow the electric utility to recover its costs.

SECTION 3. This 2005 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public
peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2005 Act takes effect on its passage.

NOTE: Matter in boldfaced type in an amended section is new; matter [italic and bracketed] is existing law to be omitted.

New sections are in boldfaced type.
LC 3566




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