PITTSBURGH, Nov. 29, 2000 — As part of the negotiations that led to the settlement reached today in Harrisburg, Citizen Power sought increased funding of Duquesne Light Company’s Low Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP).
The agreement extends current LIURP funding of $1.75 million an additional two years, through 2004. Beginning in 2002, Duquesne will add another $950 thousand to the annual LIURP budget. Thus, the total new spending for LIURP for 2002-2004, agreed to in this settlement, will be $6.35 million.
“We’re proud to have introduced the idea of, and successfully negotiated, extending and increasing the funding for the LIURP,” said David Hughes, executive director of Citizen Power. “The best way to help low-income customers save on their electricity bill is to help them reduce their usage,” said Hughes. “There are over one hundred thousand low-income customers in the Duquesne territory and the increased funding will enable hundreds more than are currently in the program to take advantage of the LIURP savings,” Hughes said.
The settlement resolves several issues relative to the final phase of Duquesne’s transition to full competition in the retail electricity business. Duquesne’s transition period will end when the company finishes collecting its “stranded costs” or “transition” charge, expected to occur in February 2002.
Citizen Power participated in this settlement process as part of its work to insure that the promised benefits of deregulation are realized by residential — particularly low income — ratepayers. The settlement extends Duquesne’s responsibility to be the “provider of last resort” through 2004, preserves the 21% residential rate reduction that commences with the elimination of the “transition” charge, caps transmission and distribution rates through 2003, and requires Duquesne to turn over control of its transmission system to an independent operator by December 15, 2001.
Citizen Power has fought at the state, regional and federal level to open up the transmission grid to competitors. Therefore, we welcome Duquesne’s commitment to join a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) and Duquesne’s acceptance of Citizen Power’s proposal that Duquesne not join the Alliance, an RTO that Citizen Power opposes, without prior commission approval.
“Getting Duquesne into a fully functional RTO is a crucial first step to helping more suppliers gain access to this market,” said Citizen Power senior economist, Dr. Roger Odisio.