Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. PAC-E-11-12

December 13, 2011

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712


Telephonic hearing is Dec. 19 in Rocky Mountain rate case


Customers of Rocky Mountain Power in eastern Idaho have one additional opportunity Monday night to comment on a proposed settlement of the utility’s rate case. 


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will conduct a telephonic hearing regarding the settlement on Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. A technical hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on the same day in the commission hearing room at 472 Washington St. in Boise. 


The telephonic hearing will be the third public hearing in the case, with well-attended hearings held last week in Downey and St. Anthony.


Customers can offer testimony and listen to the entire telephonic hearing. The commissioners who decide the case will be in attendance in the commission’s hearing room in Boise.


The toll-free number is 1-800-920-7487. Customers will be asked to enter a participant code, which is 76373262 followed by the pound (#) sign.  Those wanting to testify can press *1 (star one) at any time during the hearing. They will then be placed in line to testify.  When it is your turn to testify, you will hear the prompt “Ask your question” at which time you will be asked your name and address and then be allowed to testify. If you later decide you don’t want to testify, push the # (pound) key at any time.  The telephones of all those listening but not testifying are muted so that you can hear without background noises.  These instructions will be repeated at the beginning of the hearing and again during the hearing. 


During the technical hearing, attorneys for commission staff and other parties to the case present their testimony and exhibits and cross-examine the company or other parties.  The 9:30 a.m. hearing is open to the public but public testimony is not taken. 


Parties to the rate case are proposing a settlement that reduces the company’s original request for an average 15 percent increase to an average 7.8 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent in 2013 along with a company promise not to seek another rate increase that would become effective before 2014.


For residential customers, the proposed increase would be about 5.9 percent in 2012 and 5.4 percent in 2013.   The average bill for a customer who uses the company average of 837 kilowatt-hours per month would increase by $5.47 and $4.20 in summer and winter respectively in 2012 and by $5.36 and $4.10 per month in summer and winter respectively in 2013. 


Last June, PacifiCorp, which does business as Rocky Mountain Power in eastern Idaho, asked the commission for an annual revenue increase of $32.7 million. The proposed settlement allows a $17 million revenue increase each year in 2012 and 2013.  Based on recent filings by the company in both Idaho and Utah, commission staff believes that without this settlement, PacifiCorp would likely have filed for a rate increase in 2012 of at least $30 million. This settlement proposes an increase of less than 50 percent of that level. 


“Staff believes that the comprehensive multi-year approach to resolving revenue requirement represents a significantly better deal for customers than could be achieved through either a one-year settlement, litigation of the current rate case or resolution of additional rate filings in 2012,” according to testimony filed by commission staff. Commission staff thoroughly reviewed the filing and conducted an onsite audit of the company’s expenses and investments.


About $11 million of the $17 million added revenue for both years is for power supply expense.  Increased costs in power supply are due to declining revenue from surplus electricity sales, expiration of low-cost power purchase agreements and increasing coal costs.  The remaining $6 million covers fixed costs not related to power supply. The $6 million allowed in each 2012 and 2013 is about 62 percent less than the amount requested by the company. 


The proposed settlement allows the remaining expense for the Populus to Terminal transmission line to be included in rates, but not until Jan. 1, 2014 at the earliest.  In return, Rocky Mountain Power agrees to suspend its state Supreme Court appeal of a commission decision in the 2010 rate case to not include about 27 percent of Populus to Terminal expense until the line was fully utilized and benefitting customers. 


Other parties signing the settlement include the Monsanto Company, the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association and the PacifiCorp Idaho Industrial Customers. The Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho (CAPAI) participated in settlement discussions but did not sign.