Pacific Power customers, facing 14% rate hike, urged to attend hearing

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A nonprofit group says Oregon Pacific Power residential customers could be seeing a 14% rate hike in the coming months. The Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB) is urging customers to call into next week’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) hearing to make their voices heard.

Pacific Power announced on March 1 a general rate case increase of 6.6% to support investments in wildfire mitigation, vegetation management and clean energy resources. Additionally, the utility said that proposal is aimed at responding to inflation.

On the same day, Pacific Power announced its annual power cost forecast — formally called a Transition Adjustment Mechanism (TAM) — due to an expected rise in power costs. The TAM is a 5.6% proposed increase starting in 2023. Pacific Power said it’s driven by inflation in the wholesale electricity and natural gas commodity prices.

CUB said Thursday that the increases, specifically for residential customers, would be Pacific Power’s largest in 20 years. Additionally, it said customers in Eastern and Southern Oregon would feel the pinch during summer when many are running their air conditioners.

“We are deeply concerned about how this rate hike will affect customers,” CUB Executive Director Bob Jenks said in a statement. “Pacific Power serves many communities that are struggling. Every effort should be made to keep rates affordable for the many customers who struggle to pay their bills.”

RELATED: Pacific Power seeking true-up rate increase in Oregon

Pacific Power said it is working to relieve the financial stress on lower income customers. It plans to introduce a rate discount of 25% for households with a qualified income under 60% of the the state’s median income. It will go into effect on Aug. 1, if approved.

That public meeting will be on Zoom Tuesday, May 24, 6-7 p.m. Here are details from the PUC.

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 

The proposed increases that will be discussed at the public meeting are separate from the 4% proposed hike that Pacific Power announced on Tuesday. That one, called a true-up, is aimed at making up the difference between the estimated costs for 2021 rates and the actual costs for power in 2021. That increase would go into effect in 2023.

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