Utility rate case hearings scheduled in Rigby, Grace
Customers of Rocky Mountain Power in eastern Idaho will have an opportunity to testify at public hearings before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission regarding the utility’s request for an average 10.3 percent increase in rates.
The hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Rigby and Thursday, Nov. 1, the Gem Valley Performing Arts Center in Grace. Both hearings begin at 7 p.m.
The size of the proposed increase varies for customer class. The average proposed increase for residential and irrigation customers is 6.7 percent. For a residential customer who uses about 1,000 kWh a month, the monthly increase would be about $5.56, according to the company’s figures.
Rocky Mountain, a division of PacifiCorp, proposes a 24.1 percent increase for its large contract customer, Monsanto Corporation, and 14.5 percent increase for Agrium. Both are based in Soda Springs, with Monsanto as PacifiCorp’s largest customer in its six-state territory. Rates for public street lighting are proposed to increase by 20.7 percent. There is no increase proposed for commercial customers. Rates to serve customer classes are based primarily upon the cost to serve each class.
Rocky Mountain is seeking to increase its annual revenue by $18.5 million, or a 10.32 percent increase. Staff from the Public Utilities Commission is proposing a net increase in annual revenue of $11.2 million, or 6.28 percent. The PUC staff recommendations will be one of several to be considered by the three-member commission before it makes its decision. Other intervenors in the case who will present testimony and cross-examine witnesses include Monsanto Company, the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association, Agrium, Inc., Community Action Partnership of Idaho and Timothy J. Shurtz, a Firth resident.
A technical hearing is set to begin on Nov. 6 and may continue through Nov. 8 if necessary. The technical hearing will be conducted in the commission hearing room at 472 W. Washington St. in Boise.
Rocky Mountain, which serves 67,000 customers in eastern Idaho, is seeking an effective date of Jan. 1, 2008. The utility claims it must collect $18.5 million more in annual revenue to meet cost increases for fuel, wholesale market power, new generation, transmission and distribution plant investment and for labor-related cost increases. The company claims it actually needs about $22 million, but is capped from an annual revenue requirement increase of no more than 1.67 percent through March 31, 2009, as the result of a rate mitigation agreement involving all the states in PacifiCorp’s six-state territory.
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 rate of return that is reasonable for ratepayers, but enough for the company to attract capital investment in new transmission, distribution and generation. The company is seeking a rate of return of 10.75 percent. It is currently earning an ROE of 5.3 percent, which the company maintains is not enough to attract the capital investment needed to maintain its utility infrastructure.
The Jefferson County Courthouse in Rigby is at 210 Courthouse Drive, just off Rigby Lake Drive. The Gem Valley Performing Arts Center is at 704 S. Main St., in Grace.
Rocky Mountain Power’s application, testimony and workpapers as well as comments and exhibits from intervenors, are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on the electric icon, then on “Open Electric Cases” and scroll down to Case No. PAC-E-07-05. Copies of the application are also available for viewing at the company’s offices on 200 N. 170 West, Rexburg; 509 S. 200 East, Preston; 852 E. 1400 North, Shelley; 24852 U.S. Highway 89, Montpelier and at commission headquarters, 472 W. Washington St. Boise.