Idaho Public Utilities Commission
Case No. PAC-E-12-11, Order No. 32606
August 3, 2012
Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712
Rider decrease means lower rates for Rocky Mountain customers
Rates for eastern Idaho customers of Rocky Mountain Power (PacifiCorp) declined about 1.3 percent Aug. 1 due to state regulators’ approval of the company’s request to reduce its Energy Efficiency Rider.
The rider, which funds energy efficiency programs, decreases to 2.1 percent of customers’ billed amounts, down from the previous 3.4 percent.
Fearing less of a commitment to energy efficiency, some Idaho conservation groups opposed the reduction.
Although its balance account for conservation programs was in a $1 million deficit on April 30, Rocky Mountain asserted that without a reduction it would have began over-collecting on the rider this month. The company is not proposing to modify or decrease its conservation program activities. The sluggish economy and cooler than normal weather in 2011 resulted in less participation in conservation programs, thus reducing expenses.
The rider, appearing as a separate line-item on customer bills, funds a number of programs that reduce consumption and demand on PacifiCorp’s generation system, thus reducing costs for all customers. The commission performs cost-effectiveness tests on each of the programs to ensure that all customers benefit, not just those who directly participate in the programs.
The Idaho Conservation League and the Snake River Alliance said the rider should remain at 3.4 percent so that there will be funding available for an anticipated expansion of energy efficiency activity without burdening customers by “whipsawing” the rate up and down.
The commission expects Rocky Mountain to continue reviewing cost-effective programs, expand existing programs and create new ones as appropriate. But allowing what could be a significant accumulation of funds without knowing when or how much will be needed would be unfair to ratepayers, the commission said.
“Leaving the rider at its current 3.4 percent likely would create a large fund in search of expenditures, and that situation could undermine customers’ confidence that their rates are prudently used to fund only cost-effective programs,” the commission said.
Some of the programs funded by the rider include low-income weatherization, home energy efficiency incentives, refrigerator recycling, commercial and industrial efficiencies and an agricultural energy services program.
The commission’s order and other documents related to the case, including comments from the Snake River Alliance and Idaho Conservation League, are available on the commission’s Website at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on the electric icon, then on “Open Electric Cases” and scroll down to Case No. PAC-E-12-11.
Petitions for reconsideration must be filed with the commission by no later than August 21.