PacifiCorp seeks 24% rate hike in Oregon

By Ann de Rouffignac
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, Mar. 26, 2001—PacifiCorp, worried about the skyrocketing costs of purchased power this summer, filed for 24% interim rate increase with the Oregon Public Utilities Commission.

The additional rate hike comes on the heels of a 3% increase already granted by Oregon regulators in February. The utility holding company also filed last week with California state regulators for a 14% rate increase for its 40,000 customers in northern California.

The California increase, if approved, would be effective April 15. PacifiCorp plans to file a general rate case that would include this plan in September.

The increase in Oregon, pending regulatory approval, would be effective May 2-July 31. The company’s general rate case is expected to be concluded in August. The 24% increase will be included in the general rate increase and will not be an additional hike, said Colin McSeveny, spokesman for parent company ScottishPower PLC.

“The power cost adjustment will tie in the prices customers pay to what we pay for power,” said McSeveny. “This puts everything on a more realistic basis.”

PacifiCorp says the power cost adjustment will reflect differences between net power costs and power costs reflected in rates. The rates would periodically be adjusted to reflect these actual costs.

The company self-generates the “majority” of its power, says Jan Mitchell, spokeswoman for PacifiCorp. But the company does have to buy power on the spot market during peak periods or when unexpected outages occur. The company is very “concerned” about the availability this summer of hydroelectric power because of a severe drought in the Pacific Northwest.

Moreover, PacifiCorp’s Hunter Plant a base load unit in Utah won’t be back on line until May, said McSeveny. Mitchell says PacifiCorp has filed for “rate stabilization plans” or purchase power adjustments in all six western states where it operates.