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Public counsel recommends changes to Puget Sound Energy’s multi-year rate plan proposal

April 27, 2013 · Updated 4:42 PM
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The Public Counsel Section of the Washington Attorney General’s Office today filed expert testimony recommending modifications to a multi-year rate plan filed by Puget Sound Energy (PSE).

In its proposal, PSE includes automatic cost escalators to calculate electricity and gas rates during the rate plan, based on cost increases projected by the company.

“The proposal is a departure from the traditional method of setting utility rates in Washington,” said Public Counsel Division Chief Simon ffitch. “It is designed to allow PSE to increase rates to improve earnings and compensate for revenue declines caused by lower customer energy usage.”

The proposal includes an initial rate increase of approximately $50 million in 2013— resulting in a roughly 3.3-percent increase in customers’ power bills— with additional annual increases slightly over 1 percent in subsequent years of the plan through at least 2015.

Gas rates would increase about $8 million with gas customers facing an annual rate increase of approximately 1 percent per year.

According to estimates filed in the case by PSE, the escalation factors could generate more than $200 million in additional gas and electric revenue for PSE through 2015.

If continued through 2016, the plan could generate another  $100 million more in revenue,  according to information provided by the company.

The staff of both the UTC and the Northwest Energy Coalition supports the proposals.

Public Counsel’s filing argues that the UTC should:

· Reduce PSE’s authorized return on equity from the currently authorized 9.8 percent to 9.0 percent;

· Reject the use of an automatic rate escalator; and

· Allow smaller increases over the next two to three years.

The UTC will examine the testimony and evidence provided by Public Counsel and other parties then issue a decision setting the final level of rates by July 2013.

PUBLIC COMMENT:

Members of the public can comment on the PSE proposal in a number of ways.

Attend the Public Hearing:

· Date: May 16, 2013

· Time: 6 to 8 p.m.

· Location:

 

Provide Written Comments:

Written comments may be sent to:

UTC

P.O. Box 47250

Olympia, WA, 98504

Or

comments@utc.wa.gov.

 

Include your name and mailing address, the name of the company (PSE), and docket no. UE 120436 / 120437 (electric and gas).

For more information, customers may contact either the UTC or Public Counsel:

· UTC – (800) 562-6150, e-mail at comments@wutc.wa.gov. Information is available online atwww.wutc.wa.gov. Enter docket no. UE 120436 (electric) or UG 120437 (natural gas).

· Attorney General’s Office Public Counsel Section -- Public Counsel, Attorney General’s Office, 800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98104-3188, or e-mail utility@atg.wa.gov

The Public Counsel Section advocates for the interests of consumers on major rate cases, mergers and other rulemakings before the UTC. Public Counsel also advocates for consumers in court appeals, through technical study groups and before the Legislature and other policy makers. The office maintains contact with the public through a citizen advisory committee, community organizations, public hearings and personal contact with consumers in major cases. More information about Public Counsel’s work is available online at http://www.atg.wa.gov/Utilities/AboutPublicCounsel.aspx.


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