Power customers could see higher electricity bills
Oregon utility customers could see higher electricity bills if
state regulators approve rate hike proposed by Pacific Power.
Pacific Power is asking Oregon regulators to approve an
electricity rate hike that could increase residential
customers’ utility bills by as much as 14%.
Customers and advocacy groups will get a chance to weigh in
on the utility’s proposed rate hike later this month..
PacifiCorp. — the Portland-based parent company of Pacific
Power — needs the increase to offset the costs of climate
change and renewable energy projects and wildfire mitigation
efforts along inflation, according to the Oregon Public
The state regulatory panel will hold a virtual public
comment hearing on the proposed rate hike on Tuesday, May
The state utility panel said overall the rate increase
totals 6.8% or $84.4 million but will impact different
“For a residential customer using an average of 900 kWh
(kilowatt hours) per month, the increase would be $13.01 or
14.16 percent for single family residential customers; and,
$6.97 or 11.0 percent in a multi-family home using an
average of 600 kWh a month,” according to the state utility
Pacific Power said in a May 17 announcement that the
proposed rate hike averages 4% across customer categories
and totals $50.5 million.
“We know that 2021 was a difficult, volatile year for energy
prices in the West,” said Matthew McVee, vice president of
regulatory policy and operations for Pacific Power. “The
past year saw a record heat dome in the Northwest and
unseasonable cold snaps. Our 10-state footprint and diverse
sources of power generation allowed us to weather these
extremes. However, the spike in the cost of electricity we
needed to buy on the market to serve customer needs, the
drop in hydropower generation caused by the long-term
drought, and prices for the natural gas, which is used in
some of our generating plants, still exceeded projections.”
The rate hike will go through a public comment and hearing
process with state regulators slated to vote on the plan in
December. If approved, the higher electricity rates would
start in 2023.
The utility commission said PacifiCorp cited the costs of
closing down coal-fired power plants and its climate
change-induced move to renewable energy including windmills
as impetus for the increase. Pacific Power also said it will
also rollout new discounts in June for lower-income
customers with “income restraints”
Inflation is also driving part of the rate hike request. It
will also be part of opponents’ push against the increase.
The U.S. is seeing its highest inflation rates in forty
years — including record setting gasoline prices.
Higher prices hit lower income households the most.
An advocacy group representing utility customers said
Thursday that it opposes the proposed hike.
The Oregon Citizens Utility Board said the increase could
raise rates by as much as $106 million. The group worries
about higher summer air conditioning bills in southern and
“We are deeply concerned about how this rate hike will
affect customers,” said Bob Jenks, CUB executive director.
“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.”
PacifiCorp is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. The
conglomerate was built by Warren Buffett. Its holdings and
investments also include GEICO Auto Insurance, BNSF,
Benjamin Moore & Co., International Dairy Queen Inc., See’s
Candies, Helzberg Diamonds and Duracell.
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