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News Releases
PacifiCorp Customers Encouraged to Comment on Proposed Rate Increase - 05/19/22

PACIFICORP CUSTOMERS ENCOURAGED TO COMMENT ON 
PROPOSED RATE INCREASE
Oregon PUC accepting comments at May 24 virtual event, or in writing and by phone through June 22

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) is hosting a virtual public comment hearing on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 6 p.m. PST. The event provides PacifiCorp customers an opportunity to speak directly to the Commissioners about the utility’s proposed increase to electricity rates.

PacifiCorp is asking for an increase in its general rates of approximately $84.4 million or 6.8 percent. This would impact customer rates differently depending on usage and customer type -- residential, business, or industrial customers.  For a residential customer using an average of 900 kWh per month, the increase would be $13.01 or 14.16 percent for single family residential customers; and, $6.97 or 11.0 percent in a multi-family home using an average of 600 kWh a month.  

PacifiCorp identifies several factors driving the proposed rate increase, including its plan to close coal plants and transition to more renewable sources of energy and, in particular, the TB Flats Wind Project.  PacifiCorp also points to increased costs associated with its vegetation management programs and expansion of its wildfire mitigation programs. Additionally, PacifiCorp cites inflation and changes to its capital structures as drivers of the increase.  

PacifiCorp’s general rate change request is undergoing a nearly year-long review and will be fully investigated on behalf of electricity customers by the PUC, the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board, the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, and others. This public comment hearing is part of that investigation, which will conclude in December when the Commissioners rule on the request. New rates, if approved, are expected to go into effect January 1, 2023.  

Ways to Comment

Pacific Power customers and other interested persons may participate in the public comment hearing to provide verbal comments to the Commissioners and the Administrative Law Judge presiding over this rate case. 

Spanish translation services are available for community convenience at no cost. For those individuals needing translation services, log into the Zoom platform and select English or Spanish on the bottom of the page. Translation services are not available for the meeting phone-in option.

When: Tuesday, May 24, 2022 from 6 – 7 p.m. 

For those unable to participate during the virtual public comment hearing, comments may be submitted through June 22, 2022 in the following ways:

  • By email to PUC.PublicComments@puc.oregon.gov  
  • By calling 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404 (all relay calls accepted, Spanish translation services available) 
  • By mail to Oregon Public Utility Commission, Attn: AHD – UE 399, PO Box 1088, Salem, OR 97308-1088 

Stay Informed

To stay informed throughout this rate case process, individuals may request to be added to the distribution list to receive publicly available documents. Submit requests by email to puc.hearings@puc.oregon.gov or by calling 503-378-6678. Please specify docket UE 399 in the request.

The PUC’s mission is to ensure that customers of Oregon’s investor-owned utilities have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates. 

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Oregon Adopts Public Safety Power Shutoff Rules for Utilities as Wildfire Season Approaches - 05/11/22

OREGON ADOPTS PUBLIC SAFETY POWER SHUTOFF RULES FOR UTILITIES AS WILDFIRE SEASON APPROACHES
PUC reminds Oregonians to be ready for 2022 wildfire season

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently approved permanent rules for investor-owned electric utilities, including Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, and Idaho Power, regarding public safety power shutoffs (PSPSs). Temporary rules were implemented for the 2021 wildfire season while the PUC, utilities, public safety partners, and communities worked to finalize permanent rules. This is a timely decision as May is National Wildfire Awareness Month and wildfire season quickly approaches. 

A PSPS is an important safety measure designed to help protect people and communities in high fire-risk areas by proactively shutting off electricity during extreme and dangerous weather conditions. De-energizing power lines through a PSPS is a wildfire risk mitigation strategy of last resort because of the significant impacts the loss of power can have on communities and the extensive planning and communication that are needed to effectively implement them. These new rules lay out specific communication requirements for the utilities to inform public safety partners, state agencies, local jurisdictions, and the public of the need to implement a PSPS to mitigate wildfire risk, as well as updates at least every 24 hours until service is restored. 

“Extreme fire weather can clearly happen throughout Oregon,” said Letha Tawney, PUC Commissioner. “Implementing a PSPS is a complex decision that impacts communities including use of home medical devices, access to 911 services, and the ability to pump water. However, it’s a tool in the utility’s tool kit to help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, if they determine necessary.” 

View the order detailing the PSPS rules at https://apps.puc.state.or.us/orders/2022ords/22-159.pdf.  

The PUC is reminding Oregonians to get ready for the 2022 wildfire season and potential power outages. While the utilities have identified high risk zones, under extreme conditions PSPS could be utilized more widely.

How to Prepare for Wildfires Before They Happen

  • Register to receive alerts from official sources. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide. Also, sign up for emergency notifications with your local city and/or county, as well as outage alerts from your electric utility service provider.
  • Develop an emergency plan and make sure everyone in your household knows and understands what to do in the event of an evacuation.
  • Create a circle of safety around your home, which is a fuel-free defensible space that can help reduce fire danger. Visit Keep Oregon Green for more information.

How to Prepare for a Potential Power Outage

  • Be two weeks ready – Gather food, medical supplies, batteries, pet supplies, among other things, needed by family members during an outage or evacuation for up to two weeks. Learn more about what supplies to consider.
  • For individuals with a medical condition that requires power, please contact your service provider in advance of an outage to register a Medical Certificate. This certification provides added benefits and helps the utility ensure they meet your needs in the event of an outage. Also, consider a backup generator or alternative location for power needs.
  • Keep cell phones fully charged in anticipation of an outage. Consider a car-charger for cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Make sure your utility service provider has current contact information for notifications by updating your account online.
  • Access outage and PSPS information online for Portland General ElectricPacific Power, and Idaho Power

What to do During a Power Outage

  • Contact your electric utility service provider to inform them of an outage. Below is the contact information for the investor-owned utilities regulated by the PUC. If uncertain which utility serves your area, visit https://www.oregon.gov/energy/energy-oregon/pages/find-your-utility.aspx.
    • Portland General Electric – 800-544-1795
    • Pacific Power – 877-508-5088
    • Idaho Power – 800-488-6151
  • Avoid downed power lines at all costs.
  • Stay clear of utility crews working to restore service in your community.
  • Use flashlights or battery operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles or other potential fire hazards.
  • Turn off lights and unplug electric appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer to help avoid a surge to the system when service is restored. After turning off all the lights, turn one light on to know when power has been restored.
  • Use generators safely – Do not run the generator inside the home or garage or anywhere near a window or vent, as these spaces can capture deadly levels of carbon monoxide. Learn more about proper use of a generator to avoid hazardous conditions.
  • Check on elderly neighbors or community members with special needs who might need additional assistance.

Natural Gas Tips

  • If required to evacuate, no need to shut off natural gas.
  • If natural gas appliances do not operate properly once electricity is restored, call your natural gas service provider.
  • If natural gas service is shut off, do not turn on yourself. Call your natural gas service provider to restore service.
  • If you smell natural gas, evacuate immediately and call 911.

For additional information on fire prevention and preparedness, visit https://www.oregon.gov/puc/safety/Pages/Power-Outage-Prep.aspx  

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PUC Approves Lower Than Requested Rate Increase for PGE Customers - 04/28/22

PUC APPROVES LOWER THAN REQUESTED RATE INCREASE FOR PGE CUSTOMERS
Additional adjustments further impact customer rates effective May 9

SALEM, Ore. –The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently concluded its nearly year-long review of a request by Portland General Electric (PGE) to increase its overall rates by $59 million annually. The PUC significantly reduced PGE’s request and authorized the utility to collect an increase to its overall rates of $10 million annually, or 0.5 percent, to cover the costs of its general operations. With this decision, combined with separate automatic rate adjustments to recover costs for energy storage and transportation electrification programs and the early retirement of the Colstrip coal-fired generation facility, residential customers will experience an overall average bill increase of approximately 3.6 percent effective May 9, 2022. 

In a rate case, the PUC must determine how much overall revenue the company is entitled to receive. A utility’s revenue requirement is determined on the basis of the utility’s reasonable and prudent costs. The PUC must also allocate the revenue requirement among the utilities customer classes – residential, business, and industrial customers. 

PGE’s rate increase request was driven by capital investments placed in service since their last rate case, expansion of wildfire mitigation and vegetation management programs, as well as increased operating costs. The capital investments in the original filing included the new Integrated Operations Center, phase one of the Advanced Distribution Management System, as well as numerous transmission and distribution investments. The PUC also adopted the request by residential and large business customer advocates to potentially pass back to customers costs included in rates for the coal-fired Boardman generation facility collected after the plant was shut down in 2020. The amount of any potential refund will be subject to a review of PGE earnings in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

“PGE’s rate case filing was heavily scrutinized by customer advocate groups and PUC staff to ensure that Commissioners had the information we needed to make decisions in the best interest of customers,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “That scrutiny led to a significant reduction in the amount approved to increase rates.”

PGE’s requested rate increase included significant wildfire mitigation and vegetation management costs to continue hardening the system in response to the growing wildfire risk in Oregon. These costs are subject to reporting requirements and tracking to ensure the increased funding is used for these essential programs. The PUC also adopted a framework to address recovery of costs from the 2020 Labor Day wildfires and the February 2021 ice storm, defining how those costs are shared between customers and PGE.

 “An important element of the approved funding allows PGE to improve wildfire resilience, including maintaining vegetation standards around utility lines to help keep Oregonians safe as wildfire risk continues to evolve,” added Decker.  

View Order 22-129 for details on the process and actions taken during this rate case proceeding. 

PGE serves approximately 900,000 customers in seven counties and 51 cities in Oregon. 

The PUC regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies. The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates.

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