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http://www.heraldandnews.com/articles/2005/03/09/news/top_stories/top4.txt

Oregon officials to talk power rates

 March 9, 2005

By DYLAN DARLING

The Oregon Public Utility Commission will hold a public meeting in Klamath Falls next week to discuss proposed power rate increases for customers of Pacific Power, including residential, commercial and agricultural users.

The increases would take effect no later than Sept. 12 for residential and commercial users. Klamath Reclamation Project irrigators could see increases later.

The meeting described as an open house will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in the blue exhibit building on the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

Pacific Power has filed for a 12.5 percent increase for its customers across the board, and revision of a contract with Klamath Reclamation Project irrigators that keeps their rates at about half a cent per kilowatt hour. The contract is set to expire next year.

Officials will be on hand to answer questions about both issues, said Bob Valdez, spokesman for the commission. There will also be company officials and other groups with booths at the meeting.

"It's not a formal, old-fashioned meeting," Valdez said.

There's no list of speakers or agenda. Instead, a cluster of officials and stakeholders in the issues will appear before the commission.

There will also be the opportunity for the public to make official comment, Valdez said.

The open house is one of four the commission is holding about the rate change around the state. One was held Feb. 28 in Bend. Another is today in Portland and one is slated for Wednesday in Medford.

In November 2004, Pacific Power filed an application for a general rate increase of 12.5 percent. The increase would affect the bills of all of the company's customers in Oregon, said Sally LaBriere, Pacific Power's regional manager in Yreka. The company serves about 517,000 customers in Oregon.

The increase would help cover operating costs, including fuel, pensions and health care, according to the company. If the PUC approves the increase, the overall impact to customers would be 6.7 percent, because of changes in surcharges.

Also to be discussed next week is a contract signed in 1906 between Copco, Pacific Power's predecessor, and irrigators in the Klamath Project. The contract renewed in 1956, and is set to expire next year. Company officials have said once the contract is up, rates will rise to about 6 cents per kilowatt hour, which is what other water users around the state pay.

"When that contract expires, all indications are that they will move to the standard irrigation tariff," said Jon Coney, company spokesman.

A committee from the Klamath Water Users Association has been working for years against the increase, and some of its members said that the increase is not a done deal at a meeting last week.

Scott Seus, a Tulelake farmer and a committee member, said the water users should have a booth at the open house, explaining their side of the issue.

He said those with questions to ask or opinions to voice should plan on coming.

"It's a sounding board and an opportunity to be heard," he said.

 

 

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