Proposed rate hike topic of Pocatello, Twin Falls, Boise workshops
Staff from the Idaho Public Utilities Commission will conduct three workshops across southern Idaho next week regarding Idaho Power’s proposed electric rate increase.
The proposed increase is an average 10.35 percent for all customer classes, but for residential customers, the proposed increase is 4.5 percent. If Idaho Power’s request were granted in full, the average non-summer monthly bill for a residential customer who uses 1,050 kWh per month would increase from $64.42 to $67.22. An average summer bill would increase from $69.91 to $72.65.
The workshops will provide an opportunity for commission staff to explain the company’s application and to obtain input from the public before staff files its testimony, which must be submitted by no later than Oct. 19. Following a brief presentation by staff, the public will be allowed to ask questions and make comments. These are informal workshops and not formal public hearings. Public hearings, during which customers present testimony to the three commissioners who decide the case, may be scheduled later.
The workshops all begin at 7 p.m. on the following dates and at the following locations:
Monday, Oct. 1 – Pocatello City Hall, 911 N. Seventh St.;
Tuesday, Oct. 2 – Twin Falls City Hall, 305 Third Avenue East;
Wednesday, Oct. 3 – Public Utilities Commission hearing room, 472 W. Washington St., Boise.
A technical hearing is scheduled to begin Dec. 10 in the commission hearing room and may continue for two to three days.
Idaho Power last filed a rate case in 2005, when it sought 7.8 percent and, after a settlement, received 3.2 percent.
Commission staff is in the process of conducting a thorough audit and examination of Idaho Power’s request. The commission has the authority to accept, deny or modify the company’s proposal. State statute requires that regulated electric utilities be allowed to recover all prudently incurred expenses in addition to a reasonable rate of return, but enough to attract capital investment in new transmission, distribution and generation.
Idaho Power claims it must increase its annual revenue by nearly $64 million to recover more than $200 million investment in 650 miles of new distribution and transmission lines and 10 new substations. In addition, the company claims more than $80 million investment for maintenance to existing transmission and distribution. Commission staff will determine whether that investment was necessary to serve customers and if the amounts expended were reasonable and cost-efficient. When the commission denies cost recovery to a utility, it must be able to legally demonstrate why the utility’s costs were not prudently incurred or in the best interest of customers. All commission decisions can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Customers can submit written comments through Nov. 23. Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions." Fill in the case number (IPC-E-07-08) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.